Tennis

Novak Djokovic serves up a treat under new coach Goran Ivanisevic

Serb hitting the mark with his serves after new coach joins his team

Novak Djokovic got the defence of his Wimbledon title off to an impressive start when, serving superbly, he overwhelmed Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets in the first match on Centre Court yesterday.

After a few early wobbles, the 32-year-old triumphed 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 as, perhaps already buoyed by the presence of new coach Goran Ivanisevic, he really hit the mark with his serves.

"He's someone I've always looked up to and we've been friends for a long time - though usually on the opposite side of the net," Djokovic said of the 2001 champion who has come on board as part of his coaching team.

"He's coached lots of great players, so it's great to have him on my side. He's going to stay for sure through the first week, then we'll see. It's a great pleasure to have such a champion and hopefully we can have a long collaboration."

The champion made an inauspicious start, double-faulting his first serve en route to being broken, but quickly found his feet to reel off the next four games and win the first set 6-3.

Kohlschreiber, 35, found his length with more consistency in the second and the two traded heavy blows in rallies not often seen these days on the grass.

At 4-4, the German saved three break-points - the last courtesy of a successful challenge - only to drop his next service game as Djokovic served out for 7-5 and a two-set lead.

Djokovic then found his serving rhythm in the third set to take command and wrap up the match by taking it 6-3.

There were also routine wins elsewhere for veterans such as Kevin Anderson, who lost to Djokovic in last year's Wimbledon final, and Stan Wawrinka.

Anderson, 33, reached the second round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert. The fourth-seeded South African faces Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic next.

Wawrinka, the only other multiple Grand Slam champion in the draw, other than Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, belted 26 winners in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory against Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelmans.

The 34-year-old Swiss will meet the 2.11m American Reilly Opelka next.

In the women's draw, there were also winning starts for former world No.1s Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep.

Pliskova, the third seed, defeated China's Zhu Lin 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) and will next face Olympic champion Monica Puig of Puerto Rico.

Puig came from behind to beat Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmeidlova 5-7, 6-4, 7-4.

Seventh seed Halep defeated Belarus' Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 7-5 and will meet Mihaela Buzarnescu next in an all-Romanian affair.- REUTERS, AFP

Tennis