There are 32 seeds in Grand Slam tournaments, so I guess you could argue Novak Djokovic is pretty unlucky to be drawn against the world No 33 in the first round of his title defence today. Hell, until he’s got the match out of the way I wouldn’t recommend he buys any lottery tickets.
His opponent, the German No 1 Philipp Kohlschreiber, is a dangerous opening oe. Kohlschreiber has been around a long time. He has weapons. He’s big and strong with a powerful serve. He moves quite well for a big guy, too.
Kohlschreiber has done OK on grass – he made the last eight at Wimbledon three years ago and he’s won the Halle tournament in the past. In fact, Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam quarter-final he has made so he was probably going into this tournament thinking this was one of his better chances to make an impact, pick up big ranking points and maybe go into the second week.
Then he draws Novak. Jeez. How’s your luck? He won’t be buying any lottery tickets this week either.
Still, it means he gets to open up the tournament on Centre Court against the defending champion. His chances of sticking around SW19 for even a couple of days are not very high, but his sponsors should be pleased at the exposure. And it is a great experience. Playing the Wimbledon men’s champ on Centre Court: matches like this are why people become professional tennis players.
Not that Kohlschreiber will be thinking he’s a tourist. He’s dangerous, with a puncher’s chance. Djokovic won’t be taking him for granted, nor will Kohlschreiber’s compatriot, Djokovic’s coach Boris Becker. Kohlschreiber has nothing to lose, Djokovic is the top seed, and everyone does what they can to beat a top seed.
I think Kohlschreiber will go for big aggressive shots. There is no point in him just trying to keep the ball in play. He will lose easily if he does that. Expect Kohlschreiber to play very offensively. If it is over in straight sets it might not last very long. Maria Sharapova and Johanna Konta who are on centre court next (what a start that is for the Brit), had better make sure they are nice and prepared early.
Talking of preparation, although Djokovic has taken a break since the French Open, while many of his rivals, like Andy Murray, have been busy playing tournaments, I’m confident the world No 1 won’t be caught cold. Believe me, Novak’s not been lying on the beach sunbathing all day then knocking back beers and going clubbing all night. He and Boris will have been out on a private court somewhere keeping in rhythm. Djokovic has such outstanding technique, even if he had not picked up a racket he won’t lose what he has in three weeks. And he will have been practising. The rest will have done him good – after all, he has done this before and it has worked.
I think Djokovic and Murray are the favourites this year and it is good that the draw has kept them apart. Having said that, my big tip today is to say to Novak, Andy and anyone playing tournament tennis – don’t look at the draw! Take Andy. People are saying he has a tough draw as he could have to play Rafa nadal, Roger Federer and Novak. Every draw is a tough one. Don’t think about who you might play, they could be knocked out before you face them – and so could you if you don’t focus on the next opponent.
Richard Gasquet faces a qualifier in the first round, and if he wins that, another qualifier in the second. Easy? No way! Qualifiers are dangerous. They have worked their asses off to reach the main draw, they are on a roll, they feel good, they are hungry and confident. Gasquet must not think ahead to Grigor Dimitrov, who is he slated to play in the third round, he has to concentrate on Luke Saville, another of those young Aussies coming through.
It is the same with Djokovic. Kohlschreiber’s record against the champ is not that bad. He has beaten Djokovic in the past. OK, it was six years ago and on clay, but it was in a slam, the French, and in straight sets. He can find a bit of hope from that, and in the fact he’s yet to lose in the first round this year. I believe Novak will win, but Kohlschreiber won’t be a pushover.Reuse content