Tennis: Djokovic Overcomes Frustrations For Straight Set Win In Roland Garros Opener


In Roland Garros Opener

Defending champion Novak Djokovic shrugged off doubts about the state of his game with a confident 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 defeat of Pierre-Hugues Herbert at the French Open on Tuesday. The top seed had to wait until the night match on the third day of the tournament to begin his quest for a record-extending 25th Grand Slam title but quickly hit his stride to dispatch French wild card Herbert on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Djokovic has not reached a final this year and his world No 1 ranking is under threat from Jannik Sinner. He said he arrived at Roland Garros with “low expectations and high hopes” after suffering some uncharacteristic defeats this year. But everything looked in fine working order against Herbert who put up solid resistance but never looked likely to unduly concern the Serbian who has now won 72 of his 74 first-round matches in Grand Slam tournaments.

“In the moments when it mattered I think I delivered, played a great tie-break, stayed focused,” Djokovic said in his post-match presser. “I’m glad that I started the way I started, the way I felt on the court. Comparing to the previous weeks of tournaments I played, I felt good, better. So I’m moving in a positive direction. It’s just the beginning.”

Knowing he must reach at least the final to have a chance to hold off Jannik Sinner and remain World No. 1, Djokovic will next meet Roberto Carballes Baena in the second round, with Gael Monfils or Lorenzo Musetti lurking beyond that.

Still seeking his first title of 2024, Djokovic improved to 15-6 on the season overall and 7-3 on clay. The 37-year-old became the oldest champion in Roland Garros history last year and is seeking to break his own mark with a record-extending 25th Grand Slam men’s singles title this fortnight. Djokovic’s best clay-court results this season are semi-final runs in Monte-Carlo and Geneva. His surprise Geneva appearance came as a wild card in the week before Roland Garros, with the Serbian eager for more match play ahead of the clay major.

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