Australian Open champion Azarenka and men’s sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were among a record seven players to withdraw from a Grand Slam tournament in a single day.
Twenty-four hours later, French duo Michael Llodra and Paul-Henri Mathieu added their names to the growing casualty list.
Despite all the drama and controversy, Wimbledon’s new head groundsman declared he was “100 percent happy” with the condition of the courts.
Sprawling houses around the All England Lawn Tennis Club grounds that had been rented out for two weeks were abruptly vacated as Rafael Nadal, Federer, Tsonga and 2002 winner Lleyton Hewitt all headed home.
“It was surprising that so many top players lost in the last few days,” Djokovic said. “The fact that so many top players lost ... gives enough reason for all of us to not underestimate any opponent and not look that far [in the draw].”
Eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro, the only player outside the “Big Four” to win a Grand Slam in the last eight years, eased past Canada’s Jesse Levine 6-2, 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, while 2010 runner up Tomas Berdych beat German Daniel Brands 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-2.
In the women’s draw, fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, the runner-up 12 months ago, raced past France’s Mathilde Johansson 6-1, 6-3.
In the women’s doubles, Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia defeated Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain, the 15th seeds, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.