Novak Djokovic anticipates a tough first match at Wimbledon

Calling it "one of the toughest first rounds I could get," Novak Djokovic will take to the court Monday for the traditional Wimbledon men's defending champion opener on center court. He will play Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

A defending men's champion has not lost in the first round at Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt was ousted by big-serving Ivo Karlovic in 2003. Djokovic is 6-1 against Kohlschreiber.

Still, there was concern among fans of Serbia's world No. 1 player because he has not played in a tournament since his four-set defeat in the French Open final at the hands of Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka. Djokovic said this is his normal approach.

"I still managed to play in the final two years ago," Djokovic said, "and to win the title last year."

But he admitted that there was more to his absence in the traditional Wimbledon practice events this year than just following a past pattern.

"Roland Garros [French Open] final was not easy. .... I needed some time to just mentally recover."

Each of Djokovic's main rivals at Wimbledon, No. 2 Roger Federer, No. 3 Andy Murray and No. 10 Rafael Nadal, won a tuneup tournament on grass.

The Djokovic match will be followed by Maria Sharapova against Britain's Johanna Konta and Wawrinka against Portugal's Joao Sousa. Sharapova and Wawrinka are seeded fourth.

Top-seeded Serena Williams will open on Court 1.

Etc.

The last U.S. men's singles champion at Wimbledon was Pete Sampras in 2000. ... The most recent Wimbledon men's winner who never lost a set enroute to the title was Bjorn Borg of Sweden in 1976. ... Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, one of the few to break through the Big Four stranglehold on Grand Slam titles in the last 10 years, is again absent from a major. He remains slowed by a wrist injury. ... The so-called Big Four of men's tennis — Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal — have won 37 of the last 41 majors. ... If Djokovic wins at Wimbledon, he will match the number of Wimbledon titles won by his coach, Boris Becker, who won three. ... if Federer reaches the final, he will tie for the all-time high with 10, sharing that with Bill Tilden. ... Williams is only third on the all-time list of female Wimbledon champions in the sport's open era. She has five titles, same as sister Venus. Martina Navratilova has nine, including six in a row, and Steffi Graf has seven. ... Like Djokovic, defending women's champion Petra Kvitova took some unexpected time away from the tour this spring. Like Djokovic, she says it was needed. "It was a tough decision for me to miss the two big tournaments in March [including Indian Wells]," she said, "but I did do it, and I'm glad I did it."

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