The match on Centre Court between David Ferrer and Juan Martin Del Potro started with the tall Argentine falling and hurting his knee in the first game. It almost seemed that the match might be over. But as it happened, Del Potro upped and righted himself and took the first set 6-2.
The story that emerged then was that Ferrer’s ongoing ankle injury had given his team some worries and they had even discussed pulling out.
Out on Court No 1 though, Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych started off like this was going to be a right royal battle. Neither gave much and the baseline rallies almost made you forget that this is grass (not that you could as you were staring at it, pristine from the baseline to the net). Djokovic slipped once but managed to get up immediately.
The first set went to a tie-break where Djokovic tasted first blood and Berdych made him pay almost immediately. The ding-dong battle continued until Berdych surrendered the set with the score at 6-5.
Even up to this point it seemed like Djokovic was struggling a bit or at least playing under par. And Berdych hammered home that point by breaking Djokovic in the opening game of the second set.
Djokovic started with a double fault and Berdych took full advantage of that stumble. The aggression continued and Berdych was up 3-0 with two breaks.
So far, the net had been like a hindrance more than a vital part of grass court tennis but in the second set both men showed the crowd some soft hands. Not a lot, but just about enough.
Djokovic was not to be denied and turned on the aggression. He broke Berdych, held serve, broke again and the set was back on serve. Berdych netted and went wide. The crowd wanted a match and cries of “Come on Tomas” reverberated around the stadium – and even, once, “Come on Roger” as Berdych was serving. The second set was over in 40 minutes and Djokovic now had more vigour in his step.
The third set saw more mishits and overuse of his power by Berdych as Djokovic established an early lead. The crowd chanted more for the challenger than the World No 1 at this stage but it was not to be. The set was over in 32 minutes and so was the match at 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3.
Berdych was dejected after the match and shrugged his shoulders about Djokovic’s chances for the title, pointing out that he was the World No 1.
Djokovic made it clear he was ready to avenge his bronze medal match to Juan Martin Del Potro at the Olympics last year. He mentioned that although his game is baseline, aggression at the net did pay off against Berdych when he used it and he will adjust his game for the next match.
Part of Djokovic’s post-match recovery apparently involves relaxing with his pet dog Pierre. As the English questions at the post-match press conference turned to Pierre, Djokovic said he was waiting for him at home and got up to go.
He had to sit back down, quite forgetting that the Serbian journalists were waiting. Surely the World No 1 deserves a doggie break?