Novak Djokovic issues Wimbledon fitness update after his first match since surgery

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic is wearing a knee brace at the 2024 Wimbledon Championships
Novak Djokovic is wearing a knee brace at the 2024 Wimbledon Championships

Novak Djokovic revealed he was “very happy” with the way he felt after dominating Vit Kopriva at Wimbledon in his first match since having knee surgery. 

The seven-time Wimbledon winner explained he was cautious on certain shots early in the match, but was very encouraged after doing his “first “slide of the grass-court season.”

Djokovic crushed world No 123 Kopriva 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in the opening round of the 2024 Championships on Tuesday just 27 days after undergoing surgery on his right knee. The tennis legend wore a brace on his knee but moved well and looked in superb form.

The 37-year-old sustained a meniscus tear in the second set of his five-set fourth round win over Francisco Cerundolo at Roland Garros at the start of June.

The great Serbian is seeking a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon crown and record-extending 25th Grand Slam title overall.

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In his press conference after beating Kopriva, Djokovic said: “The practice week, as I was mentioning before, went great. But obviously, match play, official match on Centre Court is something completely different.

“So, I didn’t know how I’m going to feel on the court and how knee is going to hold up. But very happy, very happy with the way I felt, with the way I played, the way I moved. For an opening match, I couldn’t ask for a better start.

“Not really comparable [to the Cerundolo match at the French Open] because the surface is different. Obviously, the sensation on the court was different, a different opponent obviously. Cerundolo on clay — very tough, a tough challenge, even if you’re healthy.

“So, different circumstances really. I didn’t have any kind of pain that I had in that match, today. So that’s good.

“Obviously started a little bit more cautious, I would say. Didn’t really maybe go for certain shots 100%, in terms of the far balls, in the first set. I played I think just enough to win comfortably in straight sets.

“I felt like as the match progressed, I moved better. There was a couple of points, I think where I broke his serve in the second set, I did one slide. That was the first slide of the grass-court season for me, I hadn’t done it even in the practice week.

“So that was a great test. And after that, I felt happy that I did it, because in a way, you also feel mentally hesitant to do those extreme movements. But knowing that I can do it is obviously very comforting and very positive.”

The world No 2 will play British wildcard Jacob Fearnley, who is ranked 277th, in the second round. Djokovic was asked if he had ever seen the 22-year-old play.

“No, I haven’t seen him hit. I don’t know really anything about him, so I’ll have to do my homework,” he admitted.

“I know he was granted a wildcard to play in the tournament, so yeah, I’ll definitely analyse his match of today and see who I am up against. Obviously being British, he’s going to have the crowd and you never like to play British [players] in Wimbledon.

“For me, it’s just about really maintaining this good sensation, good feelings on the court. Getting my body and my knee in the shape to sustain the high level of potential five sets. That’s what matters the most.”

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