Novak Djokovic admitted to first-night nerves but he soon overcame them in opening the defence of his men's singles title. The Serb defeated the Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 after suffering only one minor, early alarm when he dropped serve in the third game of the match.
Neither man had played a competitive match on grass for 12 months and the champion took a good look around, accompanied by a wide smile, as he arrived on Centre Court. Bizarrely, he also took a junior golf club from his bag – it was "a little joke we wanted to do with my sponsor". If it was a souvenir of last week's trip to Gleneagles, the performance that followed was par for the course, improving as it went on.
Ferrero, briefly world No 1 but now ranked 38, surprised the Serb and the crowd with a break after Djokovic had sent an easy forehand long. The champion broke back immediately and served out for the set. The following two sets contained few problems.
"In the opening games I missed some overheads and I was nervous," Djokovic said. "It's normal. The first two sets were exciting and close and I was very satisfied with my performance."
Roger Federer, Djokovic's potential semi-final opponent, demolished the young Spanish left-hander Albert Ramos 6-1, 6-1, 6-1. The Swiss has won more matches on grass than any other current player; Ramos has never won one and was making his Wimbledon debut. It took him 35 minutes to hold his serve.
Last year Federer lost a quarter-final to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after leading by two sets. Yesterday, unfazed by starting outside Centre Court for the first time since 2003, the six-time champion began with an ace and broke in the second game. The first set took 23 minutes, the second a little longer and the third was prolonged only by a service game that Ramos lost after nine deuces. A native of Barcelona, he was experiencing how it felt to play against his favourite football team on one of their unstoppable days.