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Novak Djokovic takes on grass-drying duties during first-round victory at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic had a brief stint as a groundsman during his first-round match at Wimbledon on Monday, using his towel to dry the grass on Centre Court.

Djokovic, looking to win a men’s record-extending 24th grand slam title at the tournament, and his opponent Pedro Cachín endured a delay of almost an hour and a half after the first set due to a damp, greasy playing surface.

When the match resumed, Djokovic triumphed 6-3 6-3 7-6 (7-4) against the Argentine to kick off his pursuit of a fifth straight Wimbledon title.

“I normally come out with rackets, not with towels,” the world No. 2 joked during his on-court interview.

“It was fun to do something different – a little bit of a strange feeling but hopefully you guys liked it.”

The roof of Centre Court was closed at the end of the first set but the playing surface remained slippy, prompting Djokovic to mop and fan the grass with a towel while ground staff used leaf blowers in an attempt to dry it out.

As the rain stopped, the roof was opened once more and play could resume.

“It was definitely frustrating, of course, for the crowd waiting for us to come out on the court,” said Djokovic.

“Us players, we both wanted to play, but the conditions were not great. Obviously, it was still slippery under the roof. Once the roof was open, it was a different story. After five, 10 minutes, we were out and about.”

Unperturbed by the delay, Djokovic breezed through his first-round encounter against Cachín in a playing time of two hours and 12 minutes.

It means the Serbian star has now won 29 matches in a row at Wimbledon – a staggering streak which stretches back to his retirement in the quarterfinals six years ago.

His bid to capture a third grand slam title this year will continue on Wednesday against Australia’s Jordan Thompson, who came from two sets down to defeat American Brandon Nakashima 2-6 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.

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