Novak Djokovic is already planting his feet deep in the grass courts of Wimbledon to hold on to that title after beating Germany’s Philipp Kohschreiber in straight sets on Monday 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. The Serb will face Jarkko Nieminen in the second round.
Djokovic, 28, was playing his first competitive match since losing to Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final.
The World No. 1 opened play on the famed Centre Court with a win as he bids to claim his third Wimbledon title and equal his coach Boris Becker, who won here in 1985-86 and ’89.
“I thought [the] return was exceptionally well, good from my side; serving efficiently,” said Djokovic. “Overall a great performance against a quality opponent.”
Djokovic fired 12 aces and hit 36 winners in the match, which clocked in at just over two hours.
“He can be very tricky on all the surfaces, especially grass, and had nothing to lose but I managed to stay composed,” the world number one said. “I made the crucial breaks at 5-4 in all three sets, so hopefully it can stay that way for me.”
“Honestly I think the only little, little, little chance was when I had the chance to go up a break in the first set,” said Kohlschreiber. “I missed quite a good opportunity pretty close. After that he was in his mode. He was winning his service games easier, more chances. Overall I think he played just a better match than I did.”
Last year, the top seed won his second Wimbledon title, defeating Roger Federer in a five-set final. He became the first top seed to win Wimbledon since Federer did so in 2007 and the 11th man to win multiple Wimbledon crowns in the Open Era.
“I thought it was great to be back in Wimbledon and to play on the untouched grass and open the Wimbledon 2015 campaign on Centre Court as the defending champion,” Djokovic added. “It is a special feeling, completely different from any other tournaments. The tradition and history is nurtured here, respected. You can instantly sense that when you’re stepping on the Centre Court.”
Prior to his first-round win, the 28-year-old Serb was last seen in the final of Roland Garros, where he lost to Stan Wawrinka in four sets.
In the last Wimbledon for both players, 33-year-old Nieminen prevailed over 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9. The two battled in a 95-minute fifth set for a spot in the second round to face the defending champion.
The former quarter-finalist (2006) hit 62 winners and converted 10 of his 22 break point chances to beat the 34-year-old Australian.
Hewitt exited No. 2 Court to a standing ovation from fans and Nieminen after his defeat.