Djokovic eases past plucky Ward


Novak Djokovic started the defence of his Wimbledon title with a clinical straight-sets victory over plucky Brit James Ward on Monday.

The world number one, halfway to becoming the first man to complete a calendar Grand Slam since Rod Laver back in 1969, prevailed 6-0 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 on Centre Court in just over two hours.

Ward fought back to level at 3-3 in the second set after losing the first nine games, but there was a gulf in class on the opening day of the tournament as top seed Djokovic set up a second round encounter with Adrian Mannarino, the Frenchman himself having knocked out a home favourite in Kyle Edmund.

Djokovic, who completed a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open this month, hit the ground running in his first competitive game on grass this season, fizzing a forehand into the corner to take a 2-0 lead and fending off four break points to hold in the third game.

Ward, making his debut on Centre Court, was unable to live with the 12-time major champion as he bageled the opening set before racing into a 3-0 lead in the second with a combination of finesse and brute force.

The Brit raised his arms aloft to acknowledge the crowd after finally getting on the board at 3-1 and all of a sudden had a spring in his step, charging around the corner to peg the overwhelming favourite back at 3-3.

Ward had three break points for a 6-5 lead, but Djokovic stood firm and bossed a tie-break which he won when the 177-ranked Ward put a backhand into the tramlines.

Djokovic, aiming to become only the fourth man in the Open Era to win three consecutive titles at SW19, was in a rush to get the job done and left plenty in the tank, with just the one break in the third set enough to see off Ward.