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Novak backs experience to beat youthful Dimitrov


Novak Djokovic Picture: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Novak Djokovic Picture: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Novak Djokovic Picture: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Novak Djokovic hopes his extra grand slam experience will give him the edge when he attempts to take revenge on Grigor Dimitrov in the third round of the French Open.

The pair set up the much- anticipated meeting with comfortable victories yesterday, with Djokovic losing just four games in a 6-2 6-0 6-2 win over Guido Pella while Dimitrov saw off French teenager Lucas Pouille.

Dimitrov is one of the sport's brightest young talents so it would be an exciting match-up anyway, but it has been given an extra edge by the Bulgarian's victory over Djokovic in Madrid earlier this month.

Djokovic said: "He definitely played great there. I think he got more confident as he was getting big wins in the last few months, and so he's a tough player to beat now, definitely.

"And even though maybe his style of the game could be better on the hard court or faster surfaces, he's showing that he can play equally well on clay.

"He pushed Nadal to a tough three sets in Monaco. He beat me in Madrid. It's going to be a tough one for both of us. I need to be on top of my game.

"But here it's best of five. It's going to be very physical and all the hard work that I put into preparations for this tournament hopefully will play to my advantage and will pay off on the court."

For all Dimitrov's talent, this is the first time he has reached the third round at a grand slam.

Djokovic, meanwhile, is going for his seventh slam title and has reached the final in five of the last six tournaments.

The Serb expects 22-year-old Dimitrov, seeded 26th here, to make it to the top but has warned him the next step is all about hard work.

Djokovic said: "He's still young and he has definitely the potential to be one of the top players, but it's a very long way for him.

"Of course it can help him mentally because he's got shots, he's got talent, he's built well and he moves well around the court.

"Now it's all about hard work, dedication and trying to be consistently successful on all the surfaces in order to be a top five, top 10 player.

Dimitrov said: "It's a great feeling. I'm going to smile coming out on the court. It's the third round, I'm really looking forward to playing at my best. And you never know what's going to happen."

Rain was persistent in Paris, and seven-time champion Rafael Nadal only got as far as the warm-up against Martin Klizan before all games were cancelled.