Wimbledon 2023: Djokovic and Swiatek begin tournament
World number two Djokovic has already pocketed the Australian Open and French Open this year
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic after practice on the first day of Wimbledon (Photo – REUTERS/Hannah Mckay)
Novak Djokovic starts the Wimbledon tournament on Monday (03), initiating his quest for an eighth title and a record-tying 24th Grand Slam victory.
The 36-year-old Serbian, who has emerged victorious in the past four editions at the All England Club, begins his campaign on Centre Court, a venue where he has remained unbeaten for the past decade.
Pedro Cachin, an unheralded player from Argentina currently ranked 67th in the world, finds himself in the role of an unsuspecting opponent as he makes his main draw debut at the tournament.
“When I enter the Centre Court, I guess it just awakens something in me and I’m able to perform at a very high level,” said Djokovic.
World number two Djokovic has already pocketed the Australian Open and French Open this year.
Winning a men’s record 23rd major in Paris put him one behind Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24.
He is also halfway to pulling off the first calendar Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.
This year’s Wimbledon will be the first since 1998 to feature neither eight-time winner Roger Federer, now retired, nor the injured Rafael Nadal.
Nick Kyrgios, the Australian player who finished as the runner-up to Djokovic in 2022, was scheduled to compete against David Goffin on Monday (03).
However, on late Sunday, the 30th seeded Australian made the unfortunate decision to withdraw from the tournament due to a wrist injury he sustained while preparing for an unsuccessful appearance in Mallorca last week.
As a result of Kyrgios’ withdrawal, a lucky loser from the qualifying rounds will take his spot in the official draw.
Iga Swiatek, the top-ranked women’s player in the world, is set to compete against Zhu Lin from China, currently ranked 114th.
Swiatek enters the match with confidence, having recovered from the effects of food poisoning she experienced during the Bod Hamburg grass-court event last week.
The 22-year-old Polish player, who recently secured her third French Open title, aims to surpass her previous Wimbledon performances, as she has never progressed beyond the fourth round in the tournament.
“For sure, I believe the best players, they can play on all surfaces,” Swiatek said.
“I want to kind of become that kind of player who can play well on grass as well and feel comfortable there.”
Five-time champion Venus Williams, the 43-year-old American who made her debut at the tournament in 1997, takes on Elina Svitolina on Centre Court.
Williams is playing the singles event for the 24th time.
She faces Ukraine’s Svitolina whose articulate lobbying for support of her country in its war against Ukraine has caught the imagination.
Svitolina said she feels no bitterness towards the All England Club after they decided to lift last year’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players.
“They had to choose. There was pressure there, they didn’t want to lose a Slam tournament but we are still thankful that they banned them last year.
“It’s what we fought for,” added Svitolina, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2019.
This year’s tournament will also see a relaxing of the All England Club’s famously strict all-white clothing rule.
In a bid to ease period anxiety, female players will be allowed to wear dark-coloured underwear beneath their white skirts.
“I wore black shorts at the Eastbourne tournament so it really helped,” British player Heather Watson, said.