AFP/ Paris, France
Novak Djokovic’s bid to become the first man in half a century to win all four Grand Slam titles twice got off to a straightforward start yesterday at Roland Garros.
World number one Djokovic, returning to Grand Slam action for the first time since his US Open disqualification, eased past Sweden’s Mikael Ymer, ranked 80, in straight sets 6-0, 6-2, 6-3.
It was his 32nd win in 33 matches in 2020 and kept him on course for a second French Open title following his 2016 triumph, and 18th career major.
“It’s always a pleasure to return to Paris on Philippe Chatrier, this important court. The atmosphere is a little different this year with few fans but I remain motivated to win the title,” said Djokovic, only one of two men to have defeated 12-time champion Rafael Nadal in 15 years in Paris.
Djokovic, who suffered no immediate hangover from his US Open controversy by quickly wrapping up a record 36th Masters title in Rome on the eve of Roland Garros, next faces Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis.
The 33-year-old is in the second round for a record-equalling 16th time, matching Guillermo Vilas and Nadal.
Second seed Karolina Pliskova ended Mayar Sherif’s fairytale Grand Slam breakthrough to set up a second round clash against former champ Jelena Ostapenko.
Pliskova, a semi-finalist in 2017, squandered eight set points in the opener as world number 172 Sherif, the first Egyptian woman to play in the main draw at a Slam, took a shock lead. However, the Czech’s greater experience eventually told as she recovered to progress 6-7 (9), 6-2, 6-4.
“I think she was playing very smart today. Of course she had a lot of confidence just winning three matches from quallies,” said Pliskova of her 24-year-old opponent. “She had nothing to lose.”
Latvia’s Ostapenko, the world 43, won her first match at the French Open since sweeping to her shock 2017 title when she fired 46 winners past Madison Brengle of the United States to win 6-2, 6-1.
‘Pressure all gone’
“After I won here it was a tough time. I had to get used to the pressure but now it’s all gone,” said the 23-year-old Ostapenko.
Denmark’s Clara Tauson, just 17 and a qualifier, unleashed 48 winners to knock out American 21st seed and US Open semi-finalist Jennifer Brady 6-4, 3-6, 9-7. Tauson also saved two match points on her way to a maiden career main draw win.
Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin recovered from a break down in the final set to defeat 125th-ranked Russian Liudmila Samsonova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Fourth seed Kenin, who dumped out Serena Williams in Paris a year ago, fought back from 2-0 down in the decider to advance to a second-round tie against Romania’s Ana Bogdan.
Russian 13th seed Andrey Rublev came back from the brink to beat American Sam Querrey in five sets. Trailing by two sets and 5-2 to the big-serving Querrey it seemed as though Rublev was about to suffer a similar first-round fate to his fourth-seeded compatriot Daniil Medvedev.
The 22-year-old had never recovered a two-set deficit before but showed incredible fight to gradually turn the match around to win 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 in three hours and 17 minutes.
World number six Stefanos Tsitsipas too clawed his way back from two sets down to beat little-known Jaume Munar 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 and survive a first round scare yesterday.
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