• Wimbledon, Day One

Djokovic slips through the gears to fend off Ferrero

ESPN staff
June 25, 2012 « Stosur hits the ground running at Wimbledon | Chartbeat test »

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Novak Djokovic recovered from a sluggish start as he kicked off the defence of his Wimbledon title with victory over Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Djokovic looked rusty as he was broken early in the opening set, but was ultimately too good for the former world No. 1 as he survived a tricky first-round encounter with a 6-3 6-3 6-1 victory.

Opting to swerve the traditional warm-up events at Queen's, Halle and Eastbourne, Djokovic initially struggled to settle on the grass as a series of unforced errors - an errant smash, a wild forehand which flew long and a double fault - gifted Ferrero an early break.

Finding himself a break down seemed to spark the world No. 1 into life, and he broke straight back and began to find his rhythm before consolidating a late break with a love service game to wrap up the opening set.

Ferrero showed flashes of the tennis that took him to the top of the world rankings in 2003, but he was helpless to prevent an increasingly confident Djokovic streaking away to victory, an early break putting him in command before a second to clinch the second set.

Ferrero earned the biggest applause on Centre Court when he held serve in the final set to avoid a third-set bagel, but it merely delayed the inevitable as Djokovic successfully navigated his way into the second round, where he will meet Ryan Harrison who defeated Lu Yen-Hsun 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-2.

Playing in his first match since he was disqualified from the AEGON Championships final, David Nalbandian slumped to a straight-sets defeat to Janko Tipsarevic. Nalbandian, who defaulted for injuring a line judge at Queen's eight days ago, suffered a 6-4 7-6(4) 6-2 reverse at the hands of the Serbian eighth seed.

Next up for Tipsarevic is Ryan Sweeting - the American was the first man to reach the second round after his opponent Potito Starace retired with a lower back injury when trailing 6-2 2-0.

Djokovic's path to the title opened up considerably as sixth seed and 2010 finalist Tomas Berdych was dumped out by Ernests Gulbis. Berdych was a likely fourth-round opponent for the top seed, but he was ousted 7-6(5) 7-6(4) 7-6(4) by the talented but volatile Latvian.

There was another upset on the opening day at Wimbledon as the big-serving American John Isner was beaten 6-4 6-7(7) 3-6 7-6(7) 7-5 by Colombian Alejandro Falla. Isner, the top-ranked American in the draw as No. 11 seed has never made it past the second round at the All England Club.

Eastbourne finalist Andreas Seppi is also out after he was beaten 6-7(2) 6-4 3-6 6-3 8-6 by Denis Istomin.

Fernando Verdasco fended off a stern challenge from qualifier Jimmy Wang to progress with a 7-6(3) 6-4 7-5 victory, while Richard Gasquet faced little resistance as he cruised to a 6-2 6-2 6-2 win over Tobias Kamke.

Mikhail Youzhny celebrated his 30th birthday with a 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-3 over Donald Young. The No. 26 seed benefited from a spectacular meltdown from the American, who was firmly in command after winning the opening set.

Julien Benneteau was a 6-2 7-5 7-6(4) winner over Gilles Muller, while Benjamin Becker defeated James Blake 6-7(4) 7-5 6-0 6-4. Elsewhere there were also wins for Radek Stepanek and Gilles Simon.

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