Scratchy Djokovic advances

Scratchy Djokovic advances

FIGHTER: Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his second round match against Spain's Jaume Munar. Reuters

Former champion Novak Djokovic reached the French Open third round for the 13th consecutive year by beating Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday, while women’s top seed Simona Halep battled to victory in her opening match.

Djokovic, the 2016 Roland Garros champion and former world number one, is seeded 20 this year after struggling to rediscover his best form after returning from a right elbow injury.

He wasn’t at his best on Court Suzanne Lenglen, but goes on to face Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the last 16.

The Serbian 12-time Grand Slam champion fired 39 winners but committed 33 unforced errors and was broken three times by Munar, the world 155.

Bautista Agut, the 13th seed, saw off Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo 6-4, 7-5, 6-3, but Czech 17th seed Tomas Berdych lost a rain-interrupted first-round match to home hope Jeremy Chardy on the showpiece Court Philippe Chatrier 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8), 1-6, 5-7, 6-2. The unlikely adventure of Argentinian world number 190 Marco Trungelliti, who became the eighth lucky loser in the draw after driving back to Paris from Barcelona, came to an end as he lost 6-1, 7-6 (7/1), 6-1 to Italian Marco Cecchinato in the second round.

Holding nerve

Alexander Zverev eventually controlled his nerves to reach the third round with a 2-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over Serbian Dusan Lajovic. 

The second-seeded German smashed a racket in frustration before finding his groove and setting up a meeting with 26th- seeded Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.

Dimitrov could never tame the 57th-ranked American youngster but he eventually prevailed 6-7(2) 6-4 4-6 6-4 10-8 to collect the 50th Grand Slam win of his career.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori staged a comeback on Philippe Chatrier Court to down home favourite Benoit Paire 6-3, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Bulgaria’s Gregor Dimitrov could never tame the 57th-ranked American youngster J Donaldson but he eventually prevailed 6-7 (2), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 to collect the 50th Grand Slam win of his career.

World number one Halep fought back after a disastrous opening set to beat American Alison Riske 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 in their delayed first-round match.

Halep, the runner-up in Paris in 2014 and 2017, slumped 0-5 down in the opening set to world number 83 Riske whose only win at the tournament came in 2014.

The Romanian committed 16 unforced errors in the set but stepped up a gear from that point on to book a second-round match against Taylor Townsend of the United States.

Halep needs to reach the semifinals or better if she is to retain the world top spot.

Second seed Caroline Wozniacki cruised into the third round on Wednesday with a 6-1, 6-0 thrashing of Spanish qualifier Georgina Garcia Perez.

Eighth seed Petra Kvitova eased into the third round with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena on Court One.

Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina reached the last 32 for the fourth straight year by brushing aside Viktoria Kuzmova in straight sets.

The 23-year-old, who arrived in Paris having won her second straight Italian Open title, saw off her Slovakian opponent 6-3, 6-4.

Elsewhere, charismatic Japanese 21st seed Naomi Osaka came through a tight match with Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas 6-4, 7-5.