Novak Djokovic shows no ill effects of surgery as he strolls into round two

Novak Djokovic proved once again that he should never be written off after cruising to victory on Centre Court just 27 days after a knee operation.

The 37-year-old’s chances of featuring at Wimbledon looked all but impossible when he went under the knife in Paris last month for surgery on a torn meniscus.

But a 6-1 6-2 6-2 first-round stroll against Czech qualifier Vit Kopriva demonstrated to the doubters that not only is Djokovic fit, but he is also determined to at least challenge for title number eight at the All England Club.

Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory
Novak Djokovic eased through (Mike Egerton/PA)

Sporting a grey knee support – not exactly consistent with Wimbledon’s all-white policy – Djokovic charged through the first set in only 34 minutes.

“I know it’s not ideal. I like to go all white and I like to respect the rules. But I got permission,” he revealed afterwards. “I said to them that I will do our best for next match a white one.”

The knee, support and all, was tested when in the second set Djokovic had to fully stretch his right leg to keep the ball in play, letting out a trademark roar when he subsequently won the point.

One seven-time champion was watching another – snooker superstar Ronnie O’Sullivan was in Djokovic’s box.

Ronnie O’Sullivan watches on from the Wimbledon crowd
Ronnie O’Sullivan was watching on (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I’m his fan,” added the Serbian. “I watch snooker just because of him. I watched when I was a kid. My father loved watching snooker.

“I only watched Ronnie. Whenever he would not play, I would not watch. We just had a meet-up, an interaction for the first time. It was great.”

It might not have been quite at ‘Rocket’ speed but Djokovic completed what was probably the perfect opening work-out in less than two hours.

“Very good,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the way I felt on the court. Obviously coming into this year was different circumstances because of the knee, and didn’t know how everything would unfold on the court. I’m extremely glad about the way I felt and the way I played.

Novak Djokovic leaps to hit a shot
Novak Djokovic on his way to victory (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I tried to really focus on the game and not think too much about the knee. I’ve done everything possible in the last three-and-a-half weeks. If it was any other tournament I probably wouldn’t have risked it – but I love Wimbledon.”

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev, last month’s French Open runner-up, began his latest challenge for a maiden grand slam title with a 6-2 6-4 6-2 win over Roberto Carballes Baena.

Polish seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz dropped the first set to Moldovan Radu Albot but went through in four, but sixth seed Andrey Rublev suffered a shock exit to grand slam debutant Francisco Comesana.

Andrey Rublev hits a forehand
Andrey Rublev is out of Wimbledon (Zac Goodwin/PA)

The combustible Russian at one point smashed his racket against his own thigh six times as he slumped to a 6-4 5-7 6-2 7-6 (5) defeat.

He said: “I would not do it if I was able to hit the racket on the floor. Because we’re not allowed to hit them with the grass.

“I don’t know why in that moment, I couldn’t take it any more. I needed to let emotions out.”