Novak Djokovic claims Wimbledon win No 80 and declares that ‘the love and flame for tennis still burns for me’

Novak Djokovic arrives on Wimbledon Centre Court

Novak Djokovic admitted he was ring rusty on his Wimbledon return, but he still set another record by battling past South Korean Kwon Soon-woo in four sets.

The six-time champion, who was playing his first official match on grass since winning last year’s final, found himself a break down in both the first two sets, dropping the second.

Kwon was proving an awkward opponent with his aggressive shot-making but Djokovic, as he has so many times in the past, eventually found a way through the world No 81.

Novak Djokovic swinging


Novak Djokovic had to battle through his first-round win (Adam Davy/PA)

It was an 80th match win at the Championships for Djokovic, making the 35-year-old the only player in history to win 80 matches at all four Grand Slam events.

After sealing a 6-3 ,3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory with an ace, Djokovic said: “This court is truly special for me. It is the court I dreamed of playing and winning on, and all my dreams came true on this court.

“Credit to Kwon for playing some really high-quality tennis. Starting the tournament I didn’t have any lead-up tournaments or matches so you are always going to feel less comfortable than you would like to, especially against someone as talented as Kwon.

“It was really difficult to go through him so I had to figure out a way tactically to get in control of the points.

“I faced a break point in the third which, if he had won, the match could have gone a different way.

“I owe a lot to this sport. I’m not one of the youngsters anymore but the love and the flame for this sport still burns for me.

“At this stage of my career I try to save my best for the Grand Slams. Now we got to 80 wins, let’s get to 100.”