LONDON -- Four-time defending champion and heavy favorite Novak Djokovic began his record quest with a straight-sets Wimbledon victory over a willing but outgunned Argentine Pedro Cachin on Centre Court on Monday.
Djokovic, 36, is seeking a men's record-extending 24th Grand Slam title that would also draw him level with Australia's Margaret Court, and to match Roger Federer's eight Wimbledons and equal Federer's and Bjorn Borg's record of five successive men's singles crowns.
Although Cachin claimed an early break in a competitive first set, the only time Djokovic looked inconvenienced was when complaining about the risk of slipping on a mildly damp court after a shower caused a 70-minute delay during which the roof was closed and reopened.
He ramped up the quality through the second set, but Cachin showed admirable fighting quality to take the third into a tiebreaker on serve before Djokovic came through 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Last time Djokovic lost on Centre Court was in the 2013 final against Andy Murray and remarkably that was also his last defeat on grass by any of the 128 players in this year's draw, though for several years he has avoided any of the grass-court warmup events.
"For me, the opening match is a little bit tricky, I've not played any warmup match, and grass is a little different to clay," Djokovic said. "I've managed to adapt pretty well over the years and hopefully I manage to do it again."
Djokovic accepted that the rain delay was frustrating for the crowd but said it was still slippery until after the roof had been reopened. "I usually come out with rackets, not towels," he said.
As a reminder of the small margins that separate the great from the merely very good, Cachin had played only one match on grass, and lost it, but for long spells went toe to toe with the most successful player of all time and broke him for a 3-2 first-set lead on a rare Djokovic double fault.
The champion broke back immediately, however, and when he began to find his range, battered his way through the Argentine's defenses to take the first set in 42 minutes.
Then followed the sort of delay that drives Wimbledon fans mad. After a mild shower, the roof was put into place, but Djokovic was reluctant to return to the fray, pacing the court as ball boys took to using leaf blowers to dry the surface.
The action resumed after 70 minutes -- with the roof open again -- and Djokovic hit the ground running with an immediate break. While he threw in some crowd-pleasing drop shots, it was the relentless power and accuracy of his groundstrokes combined with an increasingly emphatic serve that wore down his 68th-ranked opponent.
To his credit, Cachin, 28, kept the champion honest in the third, coming back from 0-30 at 5-4 down with four straight points to take it to a tiebreak, but Djokovic merely went through the gears again to win it comfortably.
Mmoh, who made headlines earlier this year by beating Alexander Zverev to reach the Australian Open third round, is ranked 119 in the world.