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Djokovic racks up 80th Wimbledon win as Alcaraz fights back

Defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic became the first player to win 80 matches at all four Grand Slams on Monday while teenage star Carlos Alcaraz battled over five sets to make the second round. 

Six-time champion and top seed Djokovic saw off South Korea’s Kwon Soo-woo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

But 20-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic was made to work after falling a break down in the opening two sets against his 81st-ranked opponent – losing the second of those.

“Now we have got to 80 wins, let’s get to 100,” said Djokovic, who praised an opponent whose love of karaoke led to an appearance on the South Korean version of TV hit “The Masked Singer” last month.

Djokovic, 35, is attempting to win a fourth successive Wimbledon title and join a select group.

In the Open era, only Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have managed such a streak at the All England Club.

Alcaraz, a potential quarter-final opponent for Djokovic, came back from two sets to one down to defeat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

The 19-year-old fired 30 aces and 73 winners in a dazzling display of shot-making to win 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.

“Last year, I played five sets in the first round here as well so this shows how much I like grass,” joked Alcaraz.

Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina knocked out 2021 semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz courtesy of the tournament’s first final-set 10-point tiebreak.

World number 37 Davidovich Fokina triumphed over the seventh-seeded Pole 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (10/8) in a match interrupted twice by rain.

“When the rain came at 5-5 in the third set, I didn’t know whether to have lunch or take a siesta,” admitted 2017 junior champion Davidovich Fokina, who needed five match points to seal the win.

Around two hours of play was lost on Monday due to rain – and 10 matches cancelled – but that did not faze new women’s world number two Ons Jabeur.

The Tunisian, a quarter-finalist in 2021, eased past Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund 6-1, 6-3 in just 54 minutes under the Court One roof.

World number three Anett Kontaveit began her bid to reach the second week for the first time with a 7-5, 6-1 win against Bernarda Pera of the United States.

US Open champion Emma Raducanu beat Alison van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-4, much to the delight of a partisan home crowd on Centre Court.

The 10th seed became the first British female player to win a Grand Slam singles crown since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977 when she triumphed in New York last year.

‘Special feeling’

“It’s an incredibly special feeling to be back at Wimbledon,” said the British number one, who reached the fourth round last year.

Casper Ruud won a match at Wimbledon for the first time with a straight-sets victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Third seed Ruud, who was runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open earlier this month, came through 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (11/9), 6-2.

John Isner fired 54 aces and 97 winners to knock out French qualifier Enzo Couacaud 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Marin Cilic, the 2017 runner-up, withdrew before hitting a ball Monday due to illness.

After a cancelled edition due to the pandemic in 2020 and a reduced-capacity tournament last year, Wimbledon has returned to full crowds for 2022.

However, missing from the line-up are a host of Russian and Belarusian players who were banned following the invasion of Ukraine, including men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev.

Eight-time champion Federer is also missing Wimbledon as he recovers from knee surgery.

However, Serena Williams will play her first singles match since last year’s championship as she bids again to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams.

The American star, a seven-time champion at Wimbledon, gets her campaign under way on Tuesday as does Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard has already collected the Australian Open and French Open this year to put himself halfway to a first men’s calendar Grand Slam since 1969.

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