Novak Djokovic launched his bid for an eighth Wimbledon title on Monday with a 40th successive win on Centre Court while American stars Coco Gauff and Venus Williams were knocked out.

The 36-year-old Djokovic, who has won the past four titles at the All England Club, defeated 68th-ranked Pedro Cachin of Argentina, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (4) on the tournament’s showpiece court, where he has not lost since 2013.

Djokovic even found time to help ground staff dry out the world’s most famous lawn after the surface became too slippery following a downpour.

The roof was closed but play did not resume for about 90 minutes, much to the frustration of the fans.

“When I come out, I usually come out with racquets, not towels,” said Djokovic, who described the court as “the holy grail, the temple of tennis”.

He added: “The conditions were not great under the roof, it was still slippery. I think it was definitely frustrating for the crowd waiting for us.”

Grand Slam bid

The Serbian, bidding to match Roger Federer’s men’s record of eight Wimbledon titles, goes on to face Australia’s Jordan Thompson for a place in the third round.

World No 2 Djokovic has already pocketed the Australian Open and French Open this year.

Winning a men’s-record 23rd major in Paris put him just one behind Margaret Court’s all-time singles mark of 24.

He is also half way to becoming the first male player to pull off the first calendar Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

In the day’s biggest shock, seventh-ranked Gauff slumped to a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 defeat to fellow American Sofia Kenin, who came through qualifyng.

Kenin, now ranked 128th in the world, was Australian Open champion and French Open runner-up in 2020 before injury and loss of form saw her career slip into a downward spiral.

“This means a lot – I had to go through qualies (qualification),” she said. “I battled out there. I am super proud of myself.

An emotional Gauff admitted she “had a lot to work on”.

‘Killed by the grass’

There was no fairytale for five-time champion Venus Williams, the 43-year-old American who made her debut at the tournament in 1997.

Williams, playing the singles event for the 24th time, was defeated 6-4, 6-3 by fellow wild card Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, a semi-finalist in 2019.

Williams took a nasty tumble early in the first set on Centre Court, hurting her right knee, which was already heavily strapped.

She required two visits by the trainer before her challenge fizzled out under the weight of 33 unforced errors.

“I was literally killing it, then I got killed by the grass,” said Williams.

Seventh-seeded Andrey Rublev of Russia was the first men’s winner of the day, beating Australia’s Max Purcell 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Twelve months ago, all Russian and Belarusian players were banned by Wimbledon in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

“I think obviously there were better options – not just to ban,” said Rublev, who next faces compatriot Aslan Karatsev.

“Because in the end, there was no difference. They did only worse to themselves.”

Fellow Russians Daria Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova, as well as two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, were also first day winners.

World No 1 Iga Swiatek racked up the first five games on her way to sweeping past China’s Zhu Lin.

Reigning US Open and French Open champion Swiatek came through 6-1, 6-3 against her 34th-ranked opponent.

“I feel confident and did a good job of adjusting to grass,” said the 22-year-old Pole, who has yet to get past the last 16 at Wimbledon.

Security tight

Also making the next round were men’s fourth seed Casper Ruud and eighth-seeded Jannik Sinner.

This year’s tournament is being played under tightened security over fears that climate activists could disrupt matches following high-profile protests at other sporting events.

Three protesters from Just Stop Oil ran onto the ground during the second Ashes Test at Lord’s last week, sprinkling the group’s trademark orange powder.

“Of course we’ve taken account of what we’ve seen elsewhere so security has been uplifted in various places around the grounds,” said All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton.

The extra security measures dampened the spirits of cold and wet fans lining up in Wimbledon’s famous queue.

One fan tweeted he had been waiting for five hours, blasting the delay as “shambolic”.

Wimbledon results on Monday, the first day of the 2023 tournament at the All England Club (x denotes seeding; players representing Russia and Belarus are banned from competing under the name or flag of their countries):

Men’s singles first round

Diego Schwartzman (ARG) bt Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-0, 6-3, 6-4

Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) bt Daniel Altmaier (GER) 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 7-5

Daniel Galan (COL) bt Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN x24) 6-4, 6-3, 6-3

Oscar Otte (GER) bt Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (11/9)

Mikael Ymer (SWE) bt Alex Molcan (SVK) 6-3, 6-3, 6-4

Corentin Moutet (FRA) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-3, 7-5, 7-5

Liam Broady (GBR) bt Constant Lestienne (FRA) 6-1, 6-3, 7-5

Casper Ruud (NOR x4) bt Laurent Lokoli (FRA) 6-1, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3

Andrey Rublev (x7) bt Max Purcell (AUS) 6-3, 7-5, 6-4

Aslan Karatsev bt Luca Van Assche (FRA) 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4

Marcelo Barrios (CHI) bt Sebastian Baez (ARG) 7-6 (9/7), 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/2)

David Goffin (BEL) bt Fabian Marozsan (HUN) 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0

Alexander Bublik (KAZ x23) bt Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4

J.J. Wolf (USA) bt Enzo Couacaud (FRA) 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)

Maximilian Marterer (GER) bt Borna Gojo (CRO) 7-5, 6-7 (8/10), 6-3, 6-4

Michael Mmoh (USA) bt Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x11) 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-4

Lorenzo Musetti (ITA x14) bt Juan Pablo Varillas (PER) 6-3, 6-1, 7-5

Jaume Munar (ESP) bt John Isner (USA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

Jan Choinski (GBR) bt Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-2

Hubert Hurkacz (POL x17) bt Albert Ramos Vinolas (ESP) 6-1, 6-4, 6-4

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) bt Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 7-5, 7-5, 6-4

Jordan Thompson (AUS) bt Brandon Nakashima (USA) 2-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

Novak Djokovic (SRB x2) bt Pedro Cachín (ARG) 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)

Women’s singles first round

Iga Swiatek (POL x1) bt Zhu Lin (CHN) 6-1, 6-3

Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) bt Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3, 6-1

Diane Parry (FRA) bt Harriet Dart (GBR) 6-7 (4/7), 6-0, 6-4

Petra Martic (CRO x30) bt Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE) 7-5, 6-7 (5/7), 4-1 - retired

Magda Linette (POL x23) bt Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-3, 6-2

Barbora Strycova (CZE) bt Maryna Zanevska (BEL) 6-1, 7-5

Belinda Bencic (SUI x14) bt Katie Swan (GBR) 7-5, 6-2

Daria Kasatkina (x11) bt Caroline Dolehide (USA) 6-1, 6-4

Jodie Burrage (GBR) bt Caty McNally (USA) 6-1, 6-3

Nadia Podoroska (ARG) bt Tereza Martincova (CZE) 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4

Victoria Azarenka (x19) bt Yuan Yue (CHN) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4

Elise Mertens (BEL x28) bt Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 7-6 (7/2), 6-2

Elina Svitolina (UKR) bt Venus Williams (USA) 6-4, 6-3

Wang Xinyu (CHN) bt Storm Sanders (AUS) 6-3, 6-1

Sofia Kenin (USA) bt Cori Gauff (USA x7) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2

Jessica Pegula (USA x4) bt Lauren Davis (USA) 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 6-3

Cristina Bucsa (ESP) bt Kamilla Rakhimova 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (11/9)

Rebeka Masarova (ESP) bt Mayar Sherif (EGY x31) 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (10/6)

Katerina Siniakova (CZE) bt Zheng Qinwen (CHN x24) 6-3, 7-5

Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) bt Claire Liu (USA) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4

Alycia Parks (USA) bt Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 6-4, 6-3

Ana Bogdan (ROM) bt Liudmila Samsonova (x15) 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/4)

Veronika Kudermetova (x12) bt Kaia Kanepi (EST) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4

Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) bt Peyton Stearns (USA) 6-2, 7-5

Marie Bouzková (CZE x32) bt Simona Waltert (SUI) 6-1, 6-4

Leylah Fernandez (CAN) bt Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4

Caroline Garcia (FRA x5) bt Katie Volynets (USA) 6-4, 6-3