Novak Djokovic began his Wimbledon defence with a sketchy 4-set win against South Korean Kwon Soon-Woo. The unheralded Kwon started brightly, racing into a 3-1 first set lead. The Serb recovered, winning five games on the trot to seal the first set 6-3. But the Korean had the fist for a fight, ripping apart the Djoker by the same score in the second. Novak looked rusty and unfocused as Kwon continued to be a pesky presence. However, the Serb found a second wind to close out the third and fourth sets 6-3, 6-4.
While the win was unremarkable by itself, it brought up Nole’s 80th career victory at Wimbledon. In doing so, the 20-time Grand Slam champion becomes the first player- male or female- to rack up at least 80 wins in all four Grand Slams. Speaking to the BBC after his first-round skirmish, the 35-year-old reiterated his love for the sport; and his desire to deliver on the grandest of stages:
“I owe a lot to this sport. Of course, I love it still with all my heart. I have lots of passion for it and I’m as dedicated as anybody out there. Of course, I’m not one of the youngsters anymore and things change a little bit but the love, and flame for this sport still burns in me and you know, of course, at this stage of my career, umm I try to always play my best tennis in the Grand Slams, and really deliver, deliver the best tennis on these most significant courts.”
Is it even Djokovic, however, without a dose of cheek?! Whilst acknowledging the milestone, the Serb casually stated his wish to extend this tally to a century (and beyond):
“What can I say? Now that we’ve got to eighty, let’s get to a hundred!”
The number, although significant, pales in importance to a potential 7th title on the grass of Wimbledon and a step closer to tennis immortality.