Wimbledon Day 1: Djokovic Cannot Escape Coaching Accusations, Hewitt Says Goodbye

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Day 1 of Wimbledon never fails to keep the world entertained. A few upsets, but the majority of the higher seeds advanced. The real drama occurred in the press room.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber, but hand signals became the main topic in the press room once again. Djokovic is not happy:

Q. The other day you told us about the communication between you and Boris in the box, more kind of an encouragement thing. Now I’ve seen footage where he’s talked about using hand signals, the Serbian members of your team shouting out things in Serbian, which fewer people are going to understand.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m just trying to figure out what you want to achieve with this story. I don’t understand what you really want. Do you want to say I’m cheating, my team? I’m really trying to figure out what’s behind this.

I mean, are you asking only me or are you asking other players, as well?

Q. We know very well that in the past, Rafa Nadal, for instance, and Uncle Toni have been pulled up for this. I am interested this in general, and just at the French Open, we were asking Rafa about why a particular umpire wasn’t with him, about the whole issue of time violations. It just so happens now it appears twice in the last three weeks, say, Boris has been talking about how he communicates with you on court. I’m only responding to what I’ve seen and heard.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I understand. But, I mean, I got this question already two times in the last couple days. I don’t understand what I can say, what I haven’t said already before. I’m going to repeat myself:

I’m going to say that there are certain ways of communication which is encouragement, which is support, which is understanding the moment when to, you know, clap or say something that, you know, can lift my energy up, that can kind of motivate me to play a certain point. But it’s all within the rules.

If I am breaking any rules or my team does, I would be fined for that, right? The chair umpire would say, Coaching penalty, and that’s it. Or the supervisor, or whoever.

I think it has happened in my life, no doubt about that. Of course, I accept the fact if my coach, Boris or Marian, do say something that is against the rules that are in place, I have no complaint about the code violation that I get for coaching. So, I mean, I’m completely fine by that.

I just don’t understand why this same story is repeating over and over for days.

Q. Because we keep finding examples of Boris saying it.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He said it once.

Q. There’s another instance. Anyway…

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Anyway, then you can talk to him about it, if he’s willing to talk more about it. But I’m honestly not.

During an interview, Becker said, “[T]here are moments when he [Djokovic] looks up and he needs assurance that what he is doing is right.” Becker and the other coaches have their own ways “to tell him it’s good or tell him it’s bad.” They then leave it up to Djokovic to change. Understandably, Djokovic is upset that reporters brought this up in his two interviews. The ATP, referees, or organizers of the tournaments never made a note about it before or punished Djokovic.

Either way, Djokovic advances to the second round against Jarkko Nieminin.

Speaking of Nieminen, he defeated Lleyton Hewitt in a thrilling 5-set match. It was Hewitt’s last match at Wimbledon.

Q. Can you put into words what Wimbledon means to you, why it’s so special.

LLEYTON HEWITT: For me, it’s the home of tennis. I don’t get the same feeling walking into any other grounds in the world, no other tennis court, no other complex, than I do here. I do get goosebumps walking into this place.

I’m so fortunate. One of the greatest things about winning this Championship is becoming a member of it. For me to be able to go in the member’s locker room four weeks before Wimbledon, yeah, in there with some of the older members, sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat, it’s a lot of fun.

That’s something I can always come back and enjoy over the years.

Carla Suarez Navarro lost in straight sets. It only took wild card Jelena Ostapenko 52 minutes to defeat the ninth seed and bageled her in the second set. Navarro played as if she were the wild card. Ostapenko broke her six times, slammed three aces, and scored 30 winners. Navarro scored one winner. ONE. An incredibly disappointing show from a top-10 seed.

Qualifier John Millman defeated 19-seed Tommy Robredo in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3,6-4. Millman protected his serve the whole match and never faced a break point while breaking Robredo four times.

But the other favorites remain. French Open champion Stan Wawrinka advanced. Maria Sharapova easily handled Johanna Konta. Victoria Azarenka moved swiftly and confidently against Anett Kontaveit without showing any pain on her left foot. Venus Williams achieved her first double bagel at Wimbledon against fellow American Madison Brengle. Australian wonder Nick Kyrgios, who defeated Rafael Nadal here last year, was on his way to an easy win against Diego Schwartzman, but the Argentine came back in the third set. He forced Kyrgios to a tiebreak, but ran out of gas before Kyrgios.

Kei Nishikori, seeded fifth, suffered a scare against Simone Bolelli. After a decent first set, the second set went into a tiebreak with Bolelli coming out on top. It appeared to drain him because Nishikori won the third set 6-3. But Bolleli still had tricks up his sleeve to win the fourth set with a break and 12 winners. But Nishikori slammed it home in the fifth set without even facing a break point.

It was not too bad of a day for Americans besides Brengle. Sloane Stephens defeated 2014 quarterfinalist Barbora Strýcová in the evening. Alison Riske almost defeated French Open finalist Lucie Safarova, but the Czech managed to win the second set and blew Riske away in the third. John Isner won in straight sets after a bumpy first set. Denis Kudia, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Lauren Davis, and Coco Vandeweghe all advanced to the second round.

Tomorrow’s big showing is defending champion Petra Kvitova against Kiki Bertens followed by Roger Federer vs. Damir Dzumhur and then Mikhail Kukushkin vs. Andy Murray.


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