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Wimbledon 2012: Djokovic ready to defend his crown

We’re off to the All-England Tennis Club as world number one Novak Djokovic bids for back-to-back Wimbledon titles.

WORLD NUMBER ONE and defending champion Novak Djokovic opens Wimbledon 2012 on Centre Court on Monday, wary of the threat posed by former French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Djokovic, who defeated Rafael Nadal in last year’s final for a maiden victory at the All England Club, hasn’t played since losing to the Spaniard in the final at Roland Garros two weeks ago.

That defeat ended his hopes of becoming just the third man to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once.

Djokovic split his first two meetings with former world number one Ferrero, but hasn’t played the Spaniard in five years.

“He definitely has a lot of experience playing on the big stage, so I’m not underestimating him, that’s for sure,” said Djokovic.

“It’s going to be a good first round match. Everybody who follows tennis, especially us, the tennis players, we really respect him a lot.

After everything he has been through, he is still trying to go back to the top. He is always dangerous. If you look at him now, I think he’s playing equally well as he was playing four, five years ago. Now it’s just a matter of his fitness obviously and his confidence on the court.

Women’s number one Maria Sharapova, who completed a career Grand Slam with victory at the French Open, is second-up on Centre Court where she meets Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova.

Sharapova, the 2004 champion, has beaten Rodionova four times in four meetings without dropping a set.

On Court One, six-time champion Roger Federer begins his campaign against Spanish left-hander Albert Ramos.

Unseeded Kim Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam title winner, who will retire after the US Open, meets fellow former world number one Jelena Jankovic, the 18th seed.

Five-time champion Venus Williams tackles Elena Vesnina while China’s former French Open winner Li Na takes on Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan.

- (c) AFP, 2012

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