Five time champion Novak Djokovic made a winning start in his bid to regain the number one spot in the rankings, but was made to work hard by the debutante Dominic Thiem of Austria. The Serb, who is bidding to top the ranking for the fifth time in six years, won 6-7(10), 6-0, 6-2, in the pair’s fourth meeting in a match lasting two hours and three ms.
Thiem who has compiled 57-22 record in 2016 with four titles, could not convert a break point in the eleventh game of the opening set, which, he finally took the first set on his seventh set point but not before serving two consecutive double faults at 6-3 in the tie-breaker.
Djokovic too failed to convert the only break point he had in the fourth game of the opening set on Thiem’s serve and also missed the opportunity to close out the first set tie-break at 9-8 on Thiem’s serve. The ninth ranked Thiem who was the last to qualify in the eight player field as the eighth ranked Rafael Nadal decided to miss the event, finally won the first set in 76 minutes of play when he ripped a forehand winner down the line.
The second set though was all Djokovic as he bageled in just 22 minutes allowing Thiem only 10 points in the process. Djokovic has a 18-1 record at this event in the last four years, his only loss coming at the hands of six time champion Roger Federer in round robin action last year. With service breaks in the third and seventh games he closed it out to love to improve to 62-8 in 2016 where he has won seven titles, including a record sixth Australian Open title and a maiden French Open crown which enabled him to complete a career slam and also a non-calendar slam.
In the evening session, fourth ranked Milos Raonic of Canada served 12 aces enroute to a 6-3, 6-4 win over another first time qualifier Gael Monfils of France. Raonic never faced a break point in the 85 minute match and converted only twice on eight break point opportunities.
One break of serve was enough to seal each set and Raonic got it in the second game of the first set and the seventh game of the second set. He served out the match to love with his 12th ace of the match. He improves to 51-15 in 2016 where his only title win came in the first week of the year in Brisbane(beat Federer). Monfils whose only win this year was a maiden ATP 500 title in Washington (beat Karlovic) fell to 44-16 for the year.
The following is the standing in the Ivan Lendl group after first round of action:-
Milos Raonic 1-0 (2-0)
Novak Djokovic 1-0 (2-1)
Dominic Thiem 0-1 (1-2)
Gael Monfils 0-1(0-2)
In the John McEnroe group, newly crowned world number one Andy Murray takes on the in form Marin Cilic of Croatia in the evening session, while the U.S. Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland plays Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the afternoon session. The Dunblane native took his second Wimbledon title and then became the only player in the history of the game to claim a second Olympic gold medal in singles.
The following is the line up with my pick mentioned first:-
Andy Murray (1) (73-9) v. Marin Cilic (7) (47-21) ; Murray leads 11-3
Stanislas Wawrinka (3) (45-16) v. Kei Nishikori (5) (57-18) ; Wawrinka leads 4-2.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]