Djokovic becomes groundsman, dries grass with towel in Wimbledon opener

Djokovic tried to aid a speedy resumption of the match.—Reuters

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic showcased his versatility during his first-round match at Wimbledon by temporarily taking on the role of a groundsman. 

The Serbian tennis superstar, aiming to clinch a men’s record-extending 24th grand slam title, used his towel to dry the damp grass on Centre Court on Monday. Djokovic and his opponent Pedro Cachín faced an unexpected delay of nearly an hour and a half after the first set due to a slippery playing surface caused by moisture.

Despite the interruption, Djokovic displayed his trademark focus and skill, securing a convincing 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory over the Argentine to commence his quest for a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title.

In a lighthearted moment during his on-court interview, Djokovic humorously remarked, “I normally come out with rackets, not with towels. It was fun to do something different – a little bit of a strange feeling but hopefully you guys liked it.” The closure of the Centre Court roof did not completely resolve the slippery conditions, prompting Djokovic to take matters into his own hands. He used his towel to mop and fan the grass while the ground staff utilised leaf blowers in an effort to dry the surface.

After a temporary halt, play resumed once the rain subsided and the roof was reopened. Djokovic expressed his frustration at the delayed start but acknowledged the improved conditions, stating, “Once the roof was open, it was a different story. After five, ten minutes, we were out and about.”

Undeterred by the setback, Djokovic breezed through his first-round encounter against Cachín, completing the match in a swift two hours and 12 minutes. This victory extends his remarkable winning streak at Wimbledon to 29 consecutive matches, a phenomenal run that dates back to his quarterfinal retirement six years ago.

Djokovic’s pursuit of a third grand slam title this year will continue on Wednesday as he takes on Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the second round. Thompson showcased his resilience by rallying from a two-set deficit to defeat American Brandon Nakashima in a thrilling five-set encounter. The clash between Djokovic and Thompson promises to be a captivating battle on the pristine lawns of the All England Club.

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