PARIS: Novak Djokovic got his quest for an 18th Grand Slam title back on track as he commenced his French Open campaign with a drama-free 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Mikael Ymer on Tuesday.
Little over three weeks since Djokovic was defaulted in the US Open fourth round for hitting a line judge with a ball, the Serb was as cool as a cucumber as he outclassed the young Swede.
Only a smattering of fans were inside Philippe Chatrier Court as Djokovic won the opening set in 20 minutes.
Djokovic did drop serve early in the second set when an attempted drop shot fell short but there was no angry response this time, just an ironic chuckle.
The 33-year-old then led the applause for Ymer when he played a sensational between-the-legs winner Nick Kyrgios would have been proud of in the sixth game.
But it was one-way traffic as Djokovic polished off the second set with his trademark clean hitting.
The 80th-ranked Ymer, facing a world No.1 for the first time, stuck manfully to his task in the third set and Djokovic became a little sloppy as he handed back a service break with a double-fault after which he flexed his hand.
Women’s second seed Karolina Pliskova ended Mayar Sherif’s fairytale Grand Slam breakthrough to set up a Roland Garros second round clash against former champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Pliskova, a semi-finalist in 2017, squandered eight set points in the opening set 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 (9-11), 6-2, 6-4.
Latvia’s Ostapenko 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.
Meanwhile, a row was brewing after French player Kristina Mladenovic suffered a controversial exit against Laura Siegemund when the German player won a point off what appeared to be a double bounce.
The incident, which came with Mladenovic 5-1 ahead and holding a set point in the opener, was missed by chair umpire Eva Asderaki.
Mladenovic pleaded in vain and her German opponent took full advantage, racing into the next round 7-5, 6-3.
It was a second successive miserable Grand Slam for the 27-year-old Frenchwoman who was withdrawn from the doubles at the US Open earlier this month in a row over coronavirus.
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 first career main draw win.
Rafael Nadal began his pursuit of a record-tying 20th men’s Grand Slam title with a straight-sets victory late on Monday.
The second seed defeated Egor Gerasimov, the world No.83 from Belarus, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to launch his assault on a 13th French Open title, 15 years after triumphing on his debut.
The Spaniard is appearing for the first time in Paris without a clay title to his credit and skipped the recent US hardcourt swing over Covid-19 concerns.
He smacked 32 winners to just 20 unforced errors to down Gerasimov, one of 31 men entered into his first French Open main draw.
Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev crashed out in the first round for the fourth year running, losing 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 6-1 to Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics. The Russian, runner-up at last year’s US Open, became the highest-ranked player to fall so far and has yet to win a match at Roland Garros since his debut in 2017.
Italian journeyman Lorenzo Giustino carved out his own place in the headlines when he outlasted France’s Corentin Moutet 0-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 18-16 in the second longest match in French Open history at six hours and five minutes.
The match, held over from Sunday, fell 28 minutes short of Roland Garros’ record marathon tie between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement in 2004.
Eighth seed Gael Monfils, the top Frenchman, lost 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 to Alexander Bublik.
Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion, edged past Tamara Zidansek 7-5, 4-6, 8-6.
Results on Tuesday (prefix number denotes seeding):
First round: 1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) bt Mikael Ymer (Sweden) 6-0, 6-2, 6-3; 20-Christian Garin (Chile) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; Marc Polmans (Australia) bt Ugo Humbert (France) 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3; Lloyd Harris (South Africa) bt Alexei Popyrin (Australia) 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7); 7-Matteo Berrettini (Italy) bt Vasek Pospisil (Canada) 6-3, 6-1, 6-3; 22-Dusan Lajovic (Serbia) bt Gianluca Mager (Italy) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-1; Kevin Anderson (South Africa) bt Laslo Djere (Serbia) 6-2, 6-3, 6-4; Alejandro Davidovich (Spain) bt Harold Mayot (France) 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 7-5.
First round: Nao Hibino (Japan) bt Marta Kostyuk (Ukraine) 6-4, 6-0; Clara Tauson (Denmark) bt 21-Jennifer Brady (US) 6-4, 3-6, 9-7; Danielle Collins (US) bt Monica Niculescu (Romania) 2-6, 6-2, 6-1; 14-Elena Rybakina (Kazakhstan) bt Sorana Cirstea (Romania) 6-0, 6-3; Irina Maria Bara (Romania) bt 26-Donna Vekic (Croatia) 6-3, 6-4; Alison Van Uytvanck (Belgium) bt Rebecca Peterson (Sweden) 2-6, 6-3, 6-1; Ana Bogdan (Romania) bt Timea Babos (Hungary) 6-4, 6-2; 4-Sofia Kenin (US) bt Liudmila Samsonova (Russia) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; Laura Siegemund (Germany) bt Kristina Mladenovic (France) 7-5, 6-3; Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) bt Madison Brengle (US) 6-2, 6-1; 2-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) bt Mayar Sherif (Egypt) 6-7 (9-11), 6-2, 6-4.
Monday’s remaining results:
First round: Daniel Galan (Colombia) bt Cameron Norrie (Great Britain) 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1; Tennys Sandgren (US) bt 29-Hubert Hurkacz (Poland) 7-5, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-1), 11-9; Jiri Vesely (Czech Republic) bt Liam Broady (Great Britain) 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2; 15-Karen Khachanov (Russia) bt Kamil Majchrzak (Poland) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-3; Guido Pella (Argentina) bt Salvatore Caruso (Italy) 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-4; 17-Pablo Carreno Busta (Spain) bt John Millman (Australia) 6-3, 6-2, 7-5; 30-Jan-Lennard Struff (Germany) bt Frances Tiafoe (US) 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3; Daniel Altmaier (Germany) bt Feliciano Lopez (Spain) 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-4; Marton Fucsovics (Hungary) bt 4-Daniil Medvedev (Russia) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 6-1; Albert Ramos-Vinolas (Spain) bt Adrian Mannarino (France) 6-4, 6-3, 6-0; Nikola Milojevic (Serbia) bt 26-Filip Krajinovic (Serbia) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1; Aljaz Bedene (Slovenia) bt Arthur Rinderknech (France) 6-2, 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 6-4; Alexander Bublik (Kazakhstan) bt 8-Gael Monfils (France) 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3; Lorenzo Sonego (Italy) bt Emilio Gomez (Ecuador) 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3; Lorenzo Giustino (Italy) bt Corentin Moutet (France) 0-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 18-16; 28-Casper Ruud (Norway) bt Yuichi Sugita (Japan) 6-1, 6-3, 6-1; Mackenzie McDonald (US) bt Steven Diez (Canada) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4; 2-Rafael Nadal (Spain) bt Egor Gerasimov (Belarus) 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
First round: Hsieh Su-Wei (Taiwan) bt Barbara Haas (Austria) 6-3, 7-6 (7-1); Kristyna Pliskova (Czech Republic) bt Viktoria Kuzmova (Slovakia) 6-1, 6-2; 11-Garbine Muguruza (Spain) bt Tamara Zidansek (Slovenia) 7-5, 4-6, 8-6; Patricia Tig (Romania) bt Stefanie Voegele (Switzerland) 7-5, 7-5; Polona Hercog (Slovenia) bt Diane Parry (France) 6-4, 6-2; Leylah Fernandez (Canada) bt 31-Magda Linette (Poland) 1-6, 6-2, 6-3; Kaja Juvan (Slovenia) bt 18-Angelique Kerber (Germany) 6-3, 6-3; Clara Burel (France) bt Arantxa Rus (Netherlands) 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-2), 6-3; Alize Cornet (France) bt Chloe Paquet (France) 6-3, 6-2; Zhang Shuai (China) bt 12-Madison Keys (US) 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).
Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2020