LONDON - A day after being accused of cheating on court, it is business as usual for world tennis No. 1 Novak Djokovic as he cruised into the second round of Wimbledon yesterday.
Tennis rules forbid coaches from instructing their players in the middle of matches, but Djokovic's coach, German legend Boris Becker, revealed the Serb's back-room staff "have our ways" of signalling to the player on court "to tell him it's good or it's bad".
Djokovic denied accusations of cheating, but admitted top players routinely break the rule.
It's not necessary that he tells me where to serve or to which side of the opponent's court I have to play, because that doesn't happen.
- Novak Djokovic, on his coach Boris Becker
"I don't think that we're cheating, I don't think that's how you can call it," the 28-year-old defended. "I mean, there are special ways of, I would say, communication, as he mentioned: the way you look at each other, the way you 'feel' your box, and the box 'feels' what you're going through on the court.
"I think that's something that just gives you that reassurance, gives you that confidence.
"It's not necessary that he tells me where to serve or to which side of the opponent's court I have to play, because that doesn't happen.
I had a tough opponent, he can be very tricky especially on the grass but I stayed composed.
- Djokovic, after his first-round 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 Wimbledon win over German Philipp Kohlschreiber
"But it's more of a, you know, encouragement, and more of a support and reassurance, as I said, that's basically present in those moments.
"Of course there are situations when it happens, and not just with the top players, with everybody. This is a very competitive sport. You're alone on the court."
With the cheating storm still lingering in the air, the spectators at Centre Court were watching intently at any signs that the Serb might be flouting the rules.
Wimbledon, 1st rd
(selected, at press time)
Men: John Isner (USA) bt Go Soeda (Jpn) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-4, Leonardo Mayer (Arg) bt Thanasi Kokkinakis (Aus) 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-3) 6-4, Marcel Granollers (Esp) bt Janko Tipsarevic (Srb) 6-3 6-4 6-2, Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Hiroki Moriya (Jp) 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-4), Nick Kyrgios (Aus) bt Diego Schwartzman (Arg) 6-0 6-2 7-6 (8-6).
Women: Kristina Mladenovic (Fra) bt Alexandra Dulgheru (Rom) 6-2 6-1, Zarina Diyas (Kaz) bt Flavia Pennetta (Ita) 6-3 2-6 6-4, Kirsten Flipkens (Bel) bt Annika Beck (Ger) 0-6 6-3 6-4, Timea Babos (Hun) bt Petra Cetkovska (Cze) 7-6(4) 6-3, Victoria Azarenka (Blr) bt Anett Kontaveit (Est) 6-2 6-1.
But Djokovic elected to let his racket do the talking as he brushed past Philipp Kohlschreiber in his 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 first-round win yesterday.
With no competitive matches in the build-up to the championships after his French Open final loss, Djokovic, on paper at least, had a dangerous opponent in the 33rd-ranked German.
But the Serb was clinical on the big points and never looked like becoming the first defending champion to fall in the first round since 2003.
He broke in the 10th game of the opener and squeezed the throttle at the same stage of the second, securing a two-set lead with a backhand winner and a roar of delight.
He will face either 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt or Jarkko Nieminen for a place in the last 32.
"(Wimbledon) is the cradle of our sport," said Djokovic, playing his first match since his defeat by Stan Wawrinka in the final of the French Open three weeks ago ended his hopes of completing a career Grand Slam.
"There is no bigger tournament in our sport than Wimbledon. It's always a special feeling to come out here as defending champion. There's always a few butterflies."
Djokovic, also the 2011 champion, hit 12 aces and 36 winners past Kohlschreiber.
"I had a tough opponent, he can be very tricky especially on the grass but I stayed composed.
"I made the crucial breaks at 5-4 in all three sets, so hopefully it can stay that way for me."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
Wimbledon: Day 2
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