Thursday 23 November 2017

Tennis: Djokovic inches closer to McEnroe record

Novak Djokovic registered his 40th straight win at the French Open yesterday but last year's semi-finalist Tomas Berdych was a shock first-round casualty.

World No 2 Djokovic, who is now only four short of John McEnroe's record start to a season of 42 consecutive victories, thumped Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker 6-2 6-1 6-3.

Djokovic's run has brought him seven titles, including the Australian Open and four wins over world No 1 Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard is still the favourite to win a sixth Roland Garros crown but Djokovic, who next faces Victor Hanescu, certainly did nothing to harm his chances with a brisk 92-minute victory.

Sixth seed Berdych, who beat Andy Murray in the fourth round last year before losing to Robin Soderling, did not appear in any trouble when he took the first two sets against Frenchman Stephane Robert.

But the tide turned in the third set and, after levelling proceedings, Robert broke in the 15th game of the decider before serving out for a 3-6 3-6 6-2 6-2 9-7 victory.

There were no such problems for third seed Roger Federer, who negotiated a potentially tricky opening-round draw against Feliciano Lopez in style. The 29-year-old knows all about the dangers of the Spaniard, having saved match point in their recent meeting at the Masters 1000 event in Madrid.

Federer looked confident throughout yesterday, with his serve working particularly well, as he wrapped up a 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7/3) victory.

One of the most eagerly awaited matches of the first round took place on Court 1, with former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, seeded 25th, facing Croatian Ivo Karlovic.

Both players are back on the tour after injury problems in 2010 and it was Argentinian Del Potro who came through in four sets, 6-7 (7/9) 6-3 7-5 6-4.

The 22-year-old is likely to meet Djokovic in the third round.

There were mixed fortunes for the main French hopes, with Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet winning while Michael Llodra was dumped out by Steve Darcis.

Marcos Baghdatis, Mardy Fish, Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny, Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic and Thomaz Bellucci are safely through, but Tommy Haas was beaten by Marsel Ilhan.

French Open,

Live, Eurosport, 9.30

Irish Independent

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