Novak Djokovic wins his first match at Wimbledon with a sleeve on his surgically repaired knee

LONDON — LONDON (AP) — Novak Djokovic wore a gray sleeve on his surgically repaired right knee while winning his first-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday without too much of a test.

Playing his first match since tearing the meniscus in his knee at the French Open on June 3, Djokovic never faced a break point along the way to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over qualifier Vit Kopriva in under two hours on Centre Court.

“Very pleased with the way I felt on the court. Obviously, coming into Wimbledon this year was little bit of different circumstances for me, because of the knee. I didn’t know how everything was going to unfold on the court, really,” Djokovic said. “Practice sessions are quite different from official match play. I’m just extremely glad (with) the way I felt today, the way I played.”

He accumulated 15 break chances, converting six, and delivered his usual clean strokes, finishing with twice as many winners, 32, as unforced errors, 16.

There were plenty of quick points, which probably was at least in part a result of Djokovic trying not to spend too much time running more than he needed to. He ended up taking 68 of the 91 exchanges that lasted four or fewer strokes.

“I tried to really focus on the game and not really think too much about the knee,” Djokovic said. “Everything I could possibly do, I’ve done, along with my team, in the last 3 1/2 weeks in order to give myself a chance to be able to play.”

The 37-year-old Djokovic has won seven of his men’s-record 24 Grand Slam titles at the All England Club and was the runner-up to Carlos Alcaraz last year.

Djokovic hurt his knee during a five-set win at Roland Garros and pulled out of that tournament, then had surgery in Paris on June 5. Less than a month later, he was back in action and taking the first step toward what he hopes would be an eighth championship at Wimbledon, which would tie Roger Federer’s mark for the most by a man.

“If it was for any other tournament, I probably wouldn’t risk it, wouldn’t rush it as much,” Djokovic said. “I just love Wimbledon.”

Speaking to the crowd after the match, Djokovic thanked his surgeon, saying: “Without him doing his job well, things would be a bit complicated.”

He also noted Andy Murray’s withdrawal on Tuesday, a little more than a week after the 37-year-old from Scotland had a procedure to remove a cyst from his spine. Murray won two of his three major trophies at Wimbledon.

“A great blow to the tournament. It’s unfortunate, really,” Djokovic said. “Great respect to him (for) all he has done in this tournament and this sport. I just hope he will be able to finish his career on his terms.”


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