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French Open

Djokovic in winning start to French Open title defence

With a new coach, Agassi, by his side, the former world No 1 from Serbia eased into the second round at Roland Garros while Nadal blasts through his opening match

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 May, 2017, 11:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 May, 2017, 11:09pm

Novak Djokovic began the defence of his French Open title, and partnership with Andre Agassi, with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Spain’s Marcel Granollers on Monday.

It was the perfect way to mark his 50th successive Grand Slam appearance but there is still work to do for the world number two whose form has dropped off since he completed the career Grand Slam in Paris 12 months ago.

“Andre has left already. He’s waiting for me for a serious talk,” joked the 30-year-old after seeing off Granollers for the fourth time.

Djokovic dropped served four times and required nine set points to claim the second set against a player who had only won 10 games in their previous three encounters.

With Agassi, sporting a black t-shirt and sunglasses, quietly sitting in the stands along with the Serb’s entourage, it was a similar story early in the second set with the world number two returning everything Granollers tried to throw at him.

He again went 4-1 up before a wobble saw him fail to convert eight set points at 5-3.

Djokovic kept his cool to earn the second set and pounced on the Spaniard’s accumulating mistakes in the third set to seal victory on his first match point.

The Serb, seeking to become the first man in the Open era to win all four majors on at least two occasions, eventually wrapped up matters on Court Philippe Chatrier after two and a half hours.

“It’s great to have Andre Agassi as coach and as a mentor. I will try to learn as much as I can from him,” added Djokovic.

“It is an incredible honour and good luck to have him with me on the team,” Djokovic said. “Every day is special with him. I am learning something every day.”

“I changed everyone [coaches]. But I will not change my wife. My wife never.” Djokovic faces either compatriot Janko Tipsarevic or Portugal’s Joao Sousa for a place in the last 32.

Arch-rival Rafael Nadal launched his quest for a record 10th French Open title with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 win over Frenchman Benoit Paire yesterday.

The Spaniard, whose last grand slam triumph came at Roland Garros in 2014, will play Dutchman Robin Haase in the second round.

Not so fortunate was Jack Sock, who fell at the first hurdle at the French Open against a player he beat two weeks ago in Rome.

The 14th-seeded American recorded his worse result ever at the clay-court grand slam, losing 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 in the first round to Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.

Sock, who made it to the fourth round in Paris two years ago and had always advanced at least to the second round in four previous appearances, hit 39 unforced errors and dropped serve six times.

In the women’s tournament, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark survived a second-set scare to beat Australian wild card Jaimee Fourlis and reach the second round .

The 17-year-old Fourlis, who is ranked 337th in the world and was appearing in only her second ever slam, lost the first set but raced into a 4-1 lead in the second against the 11th-seeded Wozniacki.

Fourlis managed to save two of three match points on her serve before Wozniacki triumphed 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Despite the defeat, Fourlis walked off to a standing ovation.

Defending champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain is also through to the second round with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Italian Francesca Schiavone.

Schiavone, the 2010 champion, showed her usual fighting spirit and saved three match points before going down when she sent a forehand volley wide.

The fourth-seeded Muguruza won 15 points in a row from being up 3-2 in the first set and broke her Italian opponent five times.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse