Djokovic dominates Nieminen at Wimbledon

LONDON -- Novak Djokovic is the No. 1 seed here at the All England Club, but for about six minutes Wednesday, the guy on the other side of the net seemed to be The One.

Jarkko Nieminen, playing in his last Wimbledon, hit four astounding winners in Djokovic's opening service game and won seven of the first nine points, leaving the Centre Court crowd buzzing in amazement.

Naturally, order was soon restored, and Djokovic, the defending champion, settled into his usual methodical match. He was a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 winner and will face No. 27 seed Bernard Tomic in the third round Friday.

"I managed to regroup and play some good tennis," Djokovic said of his dicey beginning. "I [played] just very solid. I'm getting into form as the tournament progresses. Hopefully I'll be able to raise my level as I move forward."

Here are five takeaways from the match:

Consistently consistent: In 229 Grand Slam matches, Djokovic has never lost to a player ranked as low as Nieminen's No. 92.

Approaching the master: The top seed at Wimbledon has lost only once in the second round in the Open era. That was Boris Becker, in 1987. Djokovic is looking for his third Wimbledon title, which would equal Becker's total. Becker is currently serving as Djokovic's coach.

Forever Jarkko: Just like the player whom he beat in the first round, Lleyton Hewitt, Nieminen has announced plans to retire. In 2002, Nieminen made his Wimbledon debut against Alan Mackin, a Brit ranked No. 355. Nieminen won in straight sets. The Finn finished with a respectable 14-12 record at the All England Club and reached the quarterfinals in 2006.

Paying his respects: Djokovic congratulated Nieminen at the net and let him take the spotlight when they left the court. Djokovic walked 15 feet behind Nieminen as they headed for the exit. Nieminen gave the crowd a thumbs-up, did a 360-degree spin while waving, blew a kiss and bent to touch the grass one final time. "I just congratulated him for a terrific career," Djokovic later said. "He's a good, good guy, one of the nicest guys on the court. It was a pleasure to be the last player to play him at Wimbledon."

Smoother journey: Djokovic received a slice of good news when No. 5 Kei Nishikori, the highest seed in the Serb's quarter of the draw, pulled out with a calf injury. Djokovic was already graced with a relatively seamless path when the three other members of the Big Four were placed in the other half of the draw. Djokovic could still face big servers Kevin Anderson, Marin Cilic (last year's US Open champ) and John Isner in his quarter.