By Toby Davis
LONDON (Reuters) - So straightforward was Novak Djokovic's first round victory over Juan Carlos Ferrero he could almost have got away with using the golf club he carried on to Centre Court.
The Serb began the defense of his Wimbledon title in an atmosphere of light-hearted jocularity - whimsically pulling a junior golf club from his racket bag before getting down to the serious business of dispatching Spaniard Ferrero 6-3 6-3 6-1 on Monday.
The stunt transpired to be an in-joke between Djokovic and his sponsors who, according to the Serb, had designed a racket bag that looked like a golf one.
"I mixed it up with a tennis racket," Djokovic said.
If they were laughing in Serbia, they certainly were not in Spain as Ferrero left the tournament after just 98 minutes of tennis, looking nothing like a former world number one with a grand slam title to his name.
At 32 his best days are behind him and those days tended, in any case, to come on clay on which he won the French Open in 2003 rather than at Wimbledon where he had never been past the quarter-final.
Few expected him to trouble the Serb, who, despite suffering a dispiriting defeat to Rafa Nadal in the French Open final, is still the bookmakers' favorite to regain the title he won by beating the Spaniard here 12 months ago.
Djokovic last exited a major in the first round at the 2006 Australian Open, against Paul Goldstein, and at no point did he look in danger of repeating the ignominy.
Ferrero secured an early break in the third game but then it was all downhill as Djokovic struck straight back and closed out the opener with his usual combination of rugged defense and consistently accurate groundstrokes.
The Serb was then in no mood for hanging around and broke the Spaniard twice in the second set and twice more in the third.
Djokovic, who will next play American Ryan Harrison, maintained it was not the walk in the park that it looked. "The grass is not like it used to be," he told reporters.
"Now it's more about baseline players, which made him more dangerous for me in this match.
"The first two sets were exciting and close. I was very satisfied with my performance."
Centre Court was packed for the occasion of welcoming the champion. Djokovic claimed the arena's hushed tones made it more akin to a theatre than a sporting stage, but that was perhaps because there was a little prospect of an unfolding drama.
The relaxed atmosphere surrounding the Serb was encapsulated in a post-match news conference that culminated in chit chat about the Serb's dog - a toy poodle called Pierre.
"It's four years old and cute as candy," he explained.
"A French name, bought in Germany, and we consider him Serbian. He has a little bit of everything, has three passports."
Is he gluten free like his owner?
"He definitely is. He has to go along with his daddy."
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Pritha Sarkar)