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wimbledon returns Novak Djokovic avoids vaccine issue as Andy Murray finds a way to win bizarre match

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Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Defending champion Novak Djokovic side-stepped a question about the Covid-19 vaccine in his post match press conference that followed his first round win at Wimbledon against Jack Draper.

Djokovic opened up proceedings on Centre Court as Wimbledon resumed after a two year break following last year’s cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic, as he recorded a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win against his youthful British opponent.

Prior to the match getting underway, the Centre Court crowd gave a standing ovation to prominent members of the scientific community who were involved in the development of the Covid-19 vaccine as they were introduced as special guests in the Royal Box.

Djokovic caused controversy when he voiced his scepticism over Covid-19 vaccines last year and he was asked about the standing ovation for the scientists including Catherine Gilbert at Wimbledon.

"I heard a standing ovation as I was coming onto the court, but I didn’t know who it was to be for, to be honest," said Djokovic, who looked a little uncomfortable as he answered the question and declined to offer any more comment.

Meanwhile, American Frances Tiafoe caused the first big upset of the men’s singles tournament by beating third seed and Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 who was playing his first match since his French Open final defeat to Djokovic.

In the late match, Andy Murray declared he was proud of his resilience after he overcame a dramatic third-set collapse to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili and make a winning return to Centre Court.

The former world number one, playing his first singles match at Wimbledon since 2017, looked set to cruise over the line when he led by two sets and 5-0 in front of a raucous crowd.

But Murray faltered within sight of the line, 24th seed Basilashvili found renewed hope and he reeled off seven games in a row, saving two match points, to force a fourth set with darkness closing in.

That meant a delay while the roof was closed and Murray regrouped, moved back in front and this time finished the job off to win 6-4 6-3 5-7 6-3.

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Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

The Scot said: “I think I played well up to probably 5-3 in the third set. That’s never happened to me before in my career, being three breaks of serve up and two sets to love up.

“The first game where I served for it, I think he played a decent game. The 5-2 game, I was a little bit nervous. Didn’t serve particularly well at those moments. I was having to play longer rallies. I then started making bad decisions, which again I think is a sign of lack of match play.

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“As it started to get closer to the end of that set and I’m starting to feel a little bit of fatigue and then there’s doubt that creeps in because I have not been exposed to three, four hours of tennis for a very long time.

“I dealt with the pressure of the match really well until the end of the third set when I didn’t. But I don’t think there’s many players that would have won that fourth set. A lot of players would have capitulated there and I did the opposite of that.

“When you’re starting the fourth set, having just lost seven games on the spin, and the headlines that you have choked and those sorts of things and it’s one of the worst defeats of your career is what you would have heard after that match had I lost, it’s not easy to turn that round.”

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