London—Novak Djokovic became the first player to win 80 matches at all four Grand Slams as he made a successful start to his Wimbledon title defense on Monday while teenage star Carlos Alcaraz battled over five sets to make the second round.
Six-time champion and top seed Djokovic saw off South Korea’s Kwon Soo-woo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
But 20-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic was made to work after falling a break down in the opening two sets against his 81st-ranked opponent.
“Now we have got to 80 wins, let’s get to 100,” said Djokovic.
Djokovic, 35, is attempting to win a fourth successive Wimbledon title and join a select group.
In the Open era, only Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have managed such a streak at the All England Club.
Next up for Djokovic is Thanasi Kokkanikis. “Novak is kind of a brick wall,” said the Australian.
Alcaraz, a potential quarter-final opponent for Djokovic, came back from two sets to one down to defeat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.
The 19-year-old fired 30 aces and 73 winners in a dazzling display of shot-making to win 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.
“Last year, I played five sets in the first round here as well so this shows how much I like grass,” joked Alcaraz.
‘Lunch or siesta’
Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina knocked out 2021 semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz courtesy of the tournament’s first final-set 10-point tiebreak.
World number 37 Davidovich Fokina triumphed over the seventh-seeded Pole 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (10/8) in a match interrupted twice by rain.
“When the rain came at 5-5 in the third set, I didn’t know whether to have lunch or take a siesta,” admitted 2017 junior champion Davidovich Fokina, who needed five match points to seal the win.
Two-time Andy Murray also made it through, coming from a set down to see off Australia’s James Duckworth, who hasn’t registered a single win in 2022.
Murray won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
“I’m getting on a bit now so don’t know how many more chances I’ll get to play on Centre Court,” said the 35-year-old.
Around two hours of play was lost on Monday due to rain—and 10 matches cancelled—but that did not faze new women’s world number two Ons Jabeur.
The Tunisian, a quarter-finalist in 2021, eased past Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund 6-1, 6-3 in just 54 minutes under the Court One roof.
World number three Anett Kontaveit began her bid to reach the second week for the first time with a 7-5, 6-1 win against Bernarda Pera of the United States.
US Open champion Emma Raducanu beat Alison van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-4, much to the delight of a partisan home crowd on Centre Court.
The 10th seed became the first British female player to win a Grand Slam singles crown since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977 when she triumphed in New York last year.
“It’s an incredibly special feeling to be back at Wimbledon,” said the British number one, who reached the fourth round last year.
Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins was the day’s biggest casualty as the seventh-seeded American was knocked out by Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.
The world number 66 clawed back from a break down in the final set to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Casper Ruud won a match at Wimbledon for the first time with a straight-sets victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Third seed Ruud, who was runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open, came through 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (11/9), 6-2.
John Isner fired 54 aces and 97 winners to knock out French qualifier Enzo Couacaud 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 and will next face Murray.