Djokovic wins as Hewitt bows out
Originally published on 29/06/15
As is the privilege of the men’s defending champion, Djokovic had the honour of opening play on Centre Court, where he defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 6-4 6-4.
“It was great to be back in Wimbledon and to play on the untouched grass and open the Wimbledon 2015 campaign on Centre Court as the defending champion,” said Djokovic. “It is a special feeling, completely different from any other tournaments. The tradition and history is nurtured here, respected. You can instantly sense that when you're stepping on the Centre Court.
“I did have also the positive memories from last year. Obviously it feels great stepping on the court where you won the title the last time you were there. So that has given me the extra intensity and positivity before this match that wasn't easy at all.”
As world No.33, the highest-ranked player outside of the seeds, Kohlschreiber was a potentially tricky first-round opponent for Djokovic, who chose not to play a warm-up event on the grass at Queen’s or Halle. However, the Serb needed just two hours and two minutes to seal his place in the second round, where he will meet Jarkko Nieminen, who defeated 2002 champion Hewitt in the Australian’s 17th and final Championships appearance.
Hewitt, who will retire after the 2016 Australian Open, saved three match points but eventually fell in a dramatic 3-6 6-3 4-6 6-0 11-9 defeat on Court No.2 to Nieminen, who is also making his final appearance at the All England Club.
"I was always going to leave it out there, everything I had in the tank," said Hewitt. "I certainly did that. I didn't leave any stone unturned preparing. There were a couple of times the match could have gotten away from me at certain stages and I found a way of hanging in there. In the end [it's] obviously disappointing to lose. I would have loved to have played Novak in the next round. But Jarkko is a tough competitor and it was never going to be easy."
Hewitt was one of 11 Australians in the men’s singles draw, the most since 1995. While his doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis fell in straight sets to No.24 seed Leonardo Mayer, there was plenty of reason for the vocal Australian fans to cheer. Australian No.1 Bernard Tomic dug deep to defeat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 3-6 2-6 6-2 6-3, while Nick Kyrgios enjoyed a routine 6-0 6-2 7-6(6) win over Diego Schwartzman.
“We have a lot of players in the main draw which is really good. We’ve all been pushing each other,” said Kyrgios before paying tribute to Hewitt. “His attitude and competitiveness I think is second to none. Maybe Rafa [Nadal] and him are the greatest competitors of all time.”