Tennis: Djokovic, Swiatek in Wimbledon action despite more rain pain

AFP , Wednesday 5 Jul 2023

Novak Djokovic can take another step towards a record-equalling eighth men's Wimbledon title on Wednesday as the All England Club tackles a scheduling backlog.

Serbia s Novak Djokovic celebrates after beating Argentina's Pedro Cachin in a first round men's singles match on day one of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Monday, July 3, 2023. Photo: AP


World number two Djokovic will claim a 350th Grand Slam match win if he defeats Australia's Jordan Thompson.

Only the retired Roger Federer, an eight-time Wimbledon champion, and Serena Williams, have won more matches at the majors.

The 36-year-old Djokovic is also chasing a 24th career Grand Slam title, which would take him level with Margaret Court's all-time record.

However, he will not underestimate the 70th-ranked Thompson, who reached the final of the 's-Hertogenbosch grass-court event last month.

"I don't recall the last time I played an official tennis match anywhere, particularly in Grand Slams, where I didn't feel any nerves," Djokovic said after his opener at the All England Club.

"It's just a matter of how you adapt."

Djokovic swept past Pedro Cachin in the first round on Monday on a damp Centre Court surface, jokingly attempting to mop up excess moisture with a towel at one stage.

The unseasonable cold and wet have given officials a scheduling headache.

Tuesday's torrential downpours meant only one hour's play was possible on the outside courts and just eight of the scheduled 77 matches were completed.

At the start of play on Wednesday, 35 first-round matches remained to be completed.

In all, 87 ties were on the menu, but rain again played spoilsport, with the start delayed on outside courts by another 90 minutes.

Women's world number one Iga Swiatek, the US and French Open champion, takes on Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The 22-year-old Pole has yet to get past the last 16 at Wimbledon.

Third-ranked Daniil Medvedev, who was banned from the tournament last year along with all other Russian and Belarusian players after the invasion of Ukraine, takes on Arthur Fery of Britain.

France-born Fery, 20, a former student of Stanford University, is ranked at 391 and is making his Grand Slam debut.

"I really missed it. I always said, I love playing this tournament," said former number one Medvedev.

Petra Kvitova, widely seen as a contender for a third women's title, begins her campaign against Jasmine Paolini.

The veteran Czech defeated the 44th-ranked Italian at the same stage in 2022 and arrives at the All England Club fresh from winning her sixth career grass-court title in Berlin.

Kvitova's compatriot, Karolina Pliskova, the 2021 runner-up, tackles Serbia's Natalija Stevanovic, ranked at a lowly 225.

After falling in qualifying 10 times at the Slams, Stevanovic is finally making her Grand Slam main draw debut at the age of 28.

Fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas resumes his clash with former US Open champion Dominic Thiem after dropping the first set on Tuesday.

Holger Rune, the world number six, is back on court to complete his first round clash with Britain's George Loffhagen.

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