Wimbledon 2016: Novak Djokovic beats British wildcard James Ward to advance
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 27/06/16 5:07pm
Defending champion and world No 1 Novak Djokovic opened his bid for a third straight Wimbledon title and fifth straight Grand Slam championship by beating British wildcard James Ward.
Ward, who is ranked 177th in the world, had the honour of opening the Centre Court action - but with top seed Djokovic on the other side of the net, it was always a big ask to reach the second round.
The Serb, who holds all four major titles and is halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam, is bidding for a 13th major championship and despite a valiant effort in the second set, Djokovic powered away with a convincing 6-0 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 win.
It was Djokovic's 15th straight win at Wimbledon, and 29th consecutive Grand Slam match win and he now goes on to face Frenchman Adrian Mannarino for a place in the third round.
"Not much to say about my game, it was really flawless, I felt great," Djokovic said of the early going.
"Nerves kicked in for James, obviously, but he started playing better, second part of the second set and it was very close," he added. 'It wasn't easy to break his serve."
Ward has had a tough time on and off the court since his run to the third round last year elevated him to a career-high ranking of 89.
Shortly afterwards his Australian coach, Darren Tandy, began to show symptoms of the advanced colon cancer from which he died on Christmas Eve.
Ward is still trying to learn how to deal with his grief and there have been precious few notable victories to cheer.
Djokovic made a flawless start in the opening set, making just three unforced errors as Ward seemed overwhelmed by the occasion.
He broke again at the start of the next, taking a commanding 3-0 lead before Ward finally got on the board to a standing ovation with the 29-year-old from London whipping up the crowd.
That inspired Ward to break back and Djokovic was forced to save three break points at 5-5, but the Australian Open and French Open champion turned on the style in the tie-break, and then took command of the next set by breaking in the third game.
Did you know...
The only 6-0 6-0 6-0 at the All England Club came in 1987, when Stefan Edberg beat Stefan Eriksson in the first round.
British Davis Cup stalwart Ward wasn't given another sniff as the 12-time major winner closed out victory with an ace.
Ward now faces a crushing drop in his ranking way down into the 200s, while for Djokovic, a fourth Wimbledon title would make him just the second man since Don Budge in 1938 to win five straight majors.
It would also put him three-quarters of the way to becoming the first since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the calendar Grand Slam.
"It was an ugly start," Ward said after slumping to his eighth successive tour-level defeat.
"The more the games go on, you start panicking, especially against a guy who is making so many balls. Everything you hit is coming back," he added.
"(But) I'm proud of myself the way I turned it around because it could have been ugly."
Also through to the next round is No 23 seed Ivo Karlovic, whose booming serve was too hot to handle for compatriot Borna Coric. He went to a tie break for the 25th and 26th times this season, winning them both and taking his yearly tally to 14 as he won an all-Croatian battle with Borna Coric 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (9-7) 6-4.
"Only 26 today," Karlovic joked of his ace count that took his career total to a world record 10,851.
"Normally in three sets it's around 40. I must be under-achieving," added Karlovic, one of the 49 men aged 30 or over to start in the singles -- a Wimbledon record.
"I was in trouble in the second set but I was aggressive and went to the net and he was a little shaky. I was able to use the opportunity and after that I felt the match went my way."
Meanwhile, former US Open champion and ninth seed Marin Cilic breezed past American Brian Baker 6-3 7-5 6-3 and qualifier Lukas Lacko pipped Paolo Lorenzi in four sets.
Djokovic v Ward: Match Stats
|Total points won||110||82|
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