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Martin Rogers

Monday Slice: Djokovic's routine needs reeling in

Busted Racquet

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First serve

Novak Djokovic spent half an hour doing what he does best on the first day of the Wimbledon Championships. He also spent just less than three hours playing tennis.

While Djokovic is one of the sport's biggest stars, having climbed as high as No.3 in the world, when it comes to wasting time by bouncing the ball an incessant number of times he is the undisputed world champion.

The Serb's mind-numbing count climbed towards 20 bounces before each serve in his first-round victory against Julien Benneteau. Perhaps the TV stations should consider slipping in a couple of commercial breaks between points on his service games.

Public cries to cut down on the shrieks and grunts of female players in particular have been prolonged and vociferous, and rightly so. However, the pre-serve pontificating of Djokovic and a handful of others is just as much a threat to the sport as a spectacle.

Every player has a right to their own rituals and routines, but Djokovic goes over the top. It is gamesmanship, pure and simple. The fact that the volume of bounces increases dramatically on big points is proof of that.

Djokovic is a fine player and one of the jewels of the game. He held his nerve against an nspired and tenacious opponent in Benneteau, prevailing in four hard-fought sets. If things fall right for him, he may have a chance of going all the way.

If he just wouldn't mind doing it a bit quicker, it would benefit everybody.

Drop shot

Another Grand Slam, another major letdown for James Blake, whose slide down the rankings shows no sign of abating. Despite coming off a promising run to the final of the warm-up tournament at Queen's Club, Blake came unstuck on day one against Andreas Seppi of Italy in three miserable sets.

A serious rethink is needed to get his game back on track.

Clean winner

Maria Sharapova needed all her fighting spirit to get through to the quarterfinal of the French Open, and her reserves of tenacity will be likely called upon again at Wimbledon.

Sharapova's lack of match practice caused by her long injury absence means she is prone to mistakes and inconsistency. However, if she can put her game together then the 2004 champ could be a threat late into the tournament.

The Russian survived an early scare in which she went down 4-1 to Viktoriya Kutuzova, before coming through 7-5, 6-4. As the confidence and match fitness returns, expect much improvement from the 22-year-old.

Raising the roof?

The Wimbledon roof was kept in cold storage on the opening day, no rain despite heavy clouds and overcast conditions for much of the afternoon. The forecast for the first week is generally fine – so when will we get to see the much talked-about roof?

Game of the day

Court 18 was the scene of an epic first-round battle, with Karol Beck of Slovakia beating Feliciano Lopez 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 10-8. Beck is trying to rebuild his career after serving a two-year doping suspension, while Lopez showed more of the mental frailty that has so often prevented him from fulfilling his potential.

Mind your language

Frenchman Michael Llodra saw red when asked to continue his match with Britain's Josh Goodall in fading light. Llodra barked, "What you say is (expletive)" at the umpire when told he must carrying on playing through the murk, before the officials ventually relented and allowed the players to leave Court 2.

Upset alert

It's a long shot, but don't be too shocked if Germany's Julia Goerges gives Jelena Jankovic some problems on Day 2. Goerges is comfortable on grass, and Jankovic is a mere shadow of the player who got to No.1 in the world last year.

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