Djokovic's lucky bird helps him through Kohlschreiber test

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  • Leave it to Novak Djokovic to strike up a conversation with a bird during a match on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

    The world No 1 began his title defence on Monday with a steady 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber and it was all under the watchful eye of a bird that interrupted his match more than once – a bird he believes flew all the way from Belgrade to help him out on court.

    “From where I come from, from capital of Serbia, Belgrade, there’s a special sparrow bird called jivjum [phonetically spelt]. I believe this bird came all the way from Belgrade to help me,” joked Djokovic of the bird that spent most of the match nearby on the grass.

    “But I was feeling for its safety honestly. It just loves tennis, I guess.

    “At one point Kohlschreiber was serving at the advantage side, between the first and second serve, the bird landed literally very close to the sideline. She stayed there until I won that point. So I said ‘be my guest, stay around, if you want’.

    “It was funny to see that. We had birds, mostly birds and different animals come in and out from the court. But the sparrow bird from Belgrade really stayed for the entire match.”

    Djokovic did not need much help from the lucky bird. After trading breaks early with Kohlschreiber, the highest-ranked non-seed in the draw, the Serb broke again in game 10 to take the lead.

    It was a break in the 10th games of the second and third sets as well that gave him the victory and a second round meeting with Finnish lefty Jarkko Nieminen.

    Djokovic was happy with his opener and praised his own return against the tricky German but was upset when he was questioned again about illegal coaching following comments from his coach Boris Becker that implied they communicate during matches.

    Communication between a player and his coach is strictly prohibited during matches under the ITF and ATP rules but Becker has stated recently that there are ways he can send across a message to Djokovic, who on Sunday had explained that he only receives reassurance from his team during matches rather than actual instructions.

    On Monday he was asked about it again and said: “I’m just trying to figure out what you want to achieve with this story. I don’t understand what you really want. Do you want to say I’m cheating, my team?

    “If I am breaking any rules or my team does, I would be fined for that, right? The chair umpire would say ‘coaching penalty’, and that’s it. Or the supervisor, or whoever.”

    Joining Djokovic in the second round is French Open champion Stan Wawrinka, who posted a 6-2, 7-5, 7-6(3) win over Portugal’s Joao Sousa. Wawrinka fired 45 winners against 30 unforced errors and faced zero break points on his own serve.

    The Swiss has been the toast of the tennis tour since he blasted past Djokovic to win Roland Garros earlier this month and he revealed the secret behind his powerful shots.

    “I keep a very good fitness trainer, Pierre Paganini. We have a specific plan. I’m really happy with what he did with my body and the way he pushed me to get that strong on the tennis court now,” said the 30-year-old world No 4.

    “I think my power is coming from my feet and upper body, abs and back. You can see when I put my feet early, the power is really stronger. It’s not completely from the arm, but it’s really whole the body.”

    No 5 seed Kei Nishikori survived an epic battle with Italy’s Simone Bolelli to triumph 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a second round with Colombian Santiago Giraldo.

    “I knew it was going to be tough, tough one because we played long five sets last year here,” said Nishikori, who is making his seventh Wimbledon appearance. “I knew he’s good on grass. Mentally I was ready, but maybe there was many ups and downs. My serve, and maybe my concentration wasn’t there some moments.”

    Making his grand slam singles debut, British wild card Liam Broady came back from two sets down to beat Australian Marinko Matosevic 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

    Last year’s semi-finalist and No11 seed Grigor Dimitrov rebounded from his first round loss at Roland Garros with a convincing 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 win over Federico Delbonis of Argentina.