Fans erupt over detail in Novak Djokovic victory at French Open

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Marian Vajda, pictured here in Alex Molcan's box for his clash with Novak Djokovic at the French Open.
Marian Vajda was in Alex Molcan's box for his clash with Novak Djokovic at the French Open. Image: Twitter/Getty

Novak Djokovic has cruised into the third round of the French Open, taking down the player who is now working with his former coach.

Djokovic shocked the tennis world in March when he announced that he'd parted ways with long-time mentor Marian Vajda after 15 years.

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Vajda has since teamed up with young Slovakian player Alex Molcan, who was completely outclassed by Djokovic at Roland Garros on Wednesday.

Djokovic made comfortable work of Molcan, the World No.1 winning 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

"So far so good. I'm pleased with the way I'm feeling on the court," Djokovic said after reaching the last 32 at Roland Garros for the 17th-straight year.

"It was never going to be an easy match, but I thought I performed very well.

"Everything is going in the right direction. I'm looking forward to the next challenge."

Fans couldn't help but point out the uncanny twist that saw Djokovic pitted against Molcan following his split with Vajda.

“I've written to Marian a few days ago, we have seen each other here as well,” Djokovic said before the match.

“When I looked at the draw, it wasn't easy, I must admit.”

The 35-year-old admitted he was a little uneasy about coming up against Vajda for the first time in his career.

“Molcan for me is an opponent just like any other, but I've never had Marian in the opposing box,” he said.

“To be honest, I am not looking forward to it.”

Truth emerges about Djokovic and Vajda split

Vajda had coached Djokovic for 14 of the last 15 seasons, helping him win the majority of his 20 grand slam titles.

The World No.1 is playing in only his sixth tournament of the year because of his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19, which Vajda seemed to suggest played a part in their split.

“It was a combination of various reasons," Vajda said earlier this month.

"We have been together for a really long time and his decisions showed that he wanted to focus on grand slam tournaments – that is why he might think that it is not ideal to have so many people in his team.

"He wanted to reduce it and have only one coach.

“I don’t know for sure, because I never asked him, but I assume from my analysis of his tournament schedule, that he wanted to reduce his team, and he chose Goran Ivanisevic.

"It did not make sense for a coach to coach him only for grand slams, because a coach needs a long-term plan.”

Novak Djokovic and Marian Vajda, pictured here at the ATP Tour Finals in 2021.
Novak Djokovic and Marian Vajda at the ATP Tour Finals in 2021. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Speaking after his win on Wednesday, Djokovic said: “It was a real pleasure to play on Court Suzanne Lenglen. I don’t have a lot of opportunities to play here.

“I could feel the support. There were tricky conditions today with a lot of wind coming in different directions.

“So I had to stay focused and stay patient.

“I have a lot of respect for Alex, he’s a specialist on this surface.”

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Rafa Nadal breezed past French wildcard Corentin Moutet 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 for the 300th grand slam match win of his career.

Roger Federer (369) and Djokovic (325) are the only men to have more than Nadal, despite the Spaniard holding the men's record with 21 grand slam titles.

Nadal's French Open record now stands at a staggering 107-3 since he made his debut in 2005.

with agencies

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