LONDON: Top seed Novak Djokovic takes on Czech veteran Radek Stepanek for a place in the Wimbledon last 32 on Wednesday hoping to avoid the fate suffered by his coach Boris Becker in 1987.
The German legend, who captured three Wimbledon titles in his career, is the only top seed in the history of the tournament to lose in the second round when he was beaten by Peter Doohan 27 years ago.
Djokovic, the champion in 2011, isn’t likely to fall into the same trap as he takes a 10-1 career record over Stepanek into their Centre Court meeting.
Stepanek beat Wimbledon champion Andy Murray at Queen’s Club two weeks ago but his sole win over Djokovic was way back in 2006.
The pair played at Wimbledon in the third round in 2012 with the Serb winning in four sets.
“Radek is an experienced player. He’s somebody that I know very well off the court, as well. We are good friends,” said Djokovic of the wily 35-year-old.
“We practice with each other a lot. His win against Andy at Queen’s must have given him a lot of confidence coming into Wimbledon. I always thought that his game is very good for this surface because he has a touch, he anticipates well, he comes to the net.
“He’s one of the very few serve and volley players nowadays.”
Third seed Murray takes on Slovenia’s world number 92 Blaz Rola who is playing at his maiden Wimbledon at the age of 23.
Queen’s champion Grigor Dimitrov, the 11th seeded Bulgarian, faces Australia’s Luke Saville in a clash of two former junior champions.
In the women’s event, second seed Li Na plays Austria’s Yvonne Meusburger while 2011 champion Petra Kvitova lines up against Germany’s Mona Barthel.
Meanwhile, 1997 singles champion Martina Hingis appears at the All England Club for the first time since 2007 when she teams up with Russia’s Vera Zvonareva in the women’s doubles first round.
Hingis won nine Grand Slam doubles titles in her career but she and Zvonareva have a tough opener against fourth seeds Cara Black and Sania Mirza.