Novak Djokovic was grateful for the support of a “bird from Belgrade” after a mischievous sparrow flew on to Centre Court and watched the world number one defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets at Wimbledon.
Djokovic was given little trouble by Kohlschreiber, winning 6-4 6-4 6-4 to move into the second round at SW19, but the defending champion was unable to dislodge a boisterous bird that strutted around the tram-line for most of the match.
“From where I come from, from the capital of Serbia, Belgrade, there’s a special sparrow bird – I believe this bird came all the way from Belgrade to help me,” Djokovic said.
“But I was feeling for its safety honestly a few times. I couldn’t not notice it. I mean it just loves tennis, I guess.
“At one point Kohlschreiber was serving at the advantage side, between the first and second serve, and the bird landed literally very close to the sideline.
“She stayed there until I won that point. So I said, ‘Be my guest, stay around, if you want.’
“It was funny to see that. We had birds, mostly birds and different animals come in and out from the court, but the sparrow bird from Belgrade really stayed for the entire match.”
It was Djokovic’s first competitive match since his shock defeat to Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final three weeks ago and, while the Serbian made an unusual number of unforced errors early on, he insisted he felt sharp after his extended break.
He now faces Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen in the second round. He has come under fire after his coach Boris Becker suggested they had secret signals to communicate with each other during matches.
ATP rules state players are not allowed to receive “communications of any kind, audible or visible” during a tournament match and Djokovic was visibly annoyed when the issue was brought up again.
“I don’t understand what you really want,” Djokovic said.
“Do you want to say I’m cheating, my team? I’m really trying to figure out what’s behind this. Are you asking only me or are you asking other players, as well? “I don’t understand what I can say, what I haven’t said already.”