Defending champion Novak Djokovic progressed into the second round at Wimbledon despite a spirited performance from Britain's James Ward. The 29-year-old Serbian secured his passage into the next round by winning the match 6-0 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 on centre court in two hours and three minutes.
The expected gulf in class between Djokovic - the number one seed at SW19 - and the 29-year-old Brit - who was among the wildcards for the championships - was painfully apparent early on. Djokovic appeared to be playing at an untypically leisurely pace, but still sealed the first set in less than 30 minutes, breaking Ward's feeble-looking serve three times en route.
To his credit, Ward regained his composure sufficiently enough to drag himself back into the match in the second set. At 6-0, 3-0, Ward appeared to be on the cusp of an embarrassing result in front of a jam-packed crowd. However, the Briton won the fourth game of the second set, sealing his minor success with a second-serve ace, and responded by holding both of his hands in the air to accept the tongue-in-cheek cheers of the crowd. Almost unbelievably, he followed it up by breaking Djokovic's previously-imperious serve when the Serb hit a forehand beyond the baseline.
Indeed, Djokovic allowed the world number 177 to come storming back into the match mid-way through the set, as he made a series of unforced and uncharacteristic errors, while Ward found some consistency on his ground strokes. But the pre-match underdog squandered three break point opportunities in the 11th game, and it transpired to be another turning point.
Djokovic, who was visibly frustrated by his own inconsistencies, eventually discovered his range from the baseline and reasserted his dominance. The Serb secured a fluctuating second set 7-3 in the tiebreak.
Despite Ward's stubborn resistance and Djokovic's inconsistency continuing into the third set, the pre-match favourite always seemed to be in control, and the defending champion secured his place in the second round by winning the final set 6-4. He will next face France's Adrian Mannarino, who earlier beat Britain's Kyle Edmund 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.