Drama scheduled for first day on Centre Court as a ‘normal’ Wimbledon kicks off

Novak Djokovic, Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray all in action on day one

A promising day for drama on day one. If the schedulers had to come up with a local line for a global tournament Andy and Emma would have been it. The young up and coming Brit with a Grand Slam to her name at the US Open last year and the gnarled old veteran, who has seen the best of his years behind, trying to fitfully eek out one more big performance on the greatest stage of all.

Murray and Raducanu, the old and the new, the 35-year-old Scott who finally saved hometown blushes, where Tim Henman failed, by winning the 2013 singles title for the first time in 77 years and Raducanu, still dealing with her sudden rise and hoping to become the first British woman to win all seven games for the first time since Virginia Wade in 1977.

As tradition demands, the defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic opens proceedings on Centre Court against Soonwoo Kwon, the latest Korean player to emerge on the tour with Raducanu taking on Belgian Alison van Uytvanck immediately after and Murray in against James Duckworth for the evening crowd.

It will mark the Toronto born 19-year-olds first time on Wimbledon’s biggest court. But since the first game of her opening match of the grass season in Nottingham, Raducanu suffered a side strain that forced her to retire and she has been trying to recover since.

“Definitely there were moments earlier in the week when we weren’t sure,” she said. “We were sort of going to see how the week goes. But it went pretty well. And, yeah, now it’s full steam ahead. Everyone’s really looking forward to it. Yeah, we’re all ready.”

Murray, says he was turned down by a “lot of coaches” before reuniting for a third spell with Ivan Lendl in March. The partnership previously yielded all of his major wins - two Wimbledon titles, a US Open and two Olympic golds - before his long-running hip issues.

“We’ve had a lot of success in the past, we know each other well and he still believes in me,” said Murray of Lendl. “There’s not loads of coaches and people out there that have done over this last period. But he has.

“For the most part in my career, when I had conversations with potential coaches it came off most of the time. Whereas this time round, I got turned down by a lot of coaches so that was obviously difficult to deal with.”

Djokovic, on the hunt for his 21st Grand Slam, which would draw him level with Rafa Nadal, has typically rubbed against the grain before a ball has even been hit.

“About the US Open, you said there’s nothing you can do at this point. But you do still have time to get vaccinated before New York to make it in time... Is that something you’ve completely closed your mind to as an option going forward,” Djokovic was asked.

“Yes,” replied the reigning champion. It’s all kicking off.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times