Advertisement

Heckler helps Djokovic finds mojo with French Open rout

In time-honoured fashion, Novak Djokovic was left fuming at a heckling spectator and responded accordingly to fire himself to his best performance of the clay-court season and book his place in the third round of the French Open.

With question marks over his form and fitness, Djokovic chose the perfect time to deliver a blistering display and dismantle flinty Spanish clay-courter Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4 6-1 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier on Thursday.

And he got a little help from an irritant.

Djokovic seemed to flick into top gear after the incident while he was leading 5-4 in a tough first set when he moaned to chair umpire Nico Helwerth that a man in the front row had called out while he was chasing down a drop-shot.

In typical Roland Garros fashion, that only prompted a chorus of jeers from the crowd who loved baiting the champ in his first-round win over French wildcard Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Djokovic complains to umpire
Novak Djokovic complained to the umpire about crowd noise before moving into top gear in Paris. (AP PHOTO)

Djokovic just smiled, ended up playing a striking game to break for the first set and, from there, was quite masterful as he outplayed the world No.63 and looked to be rediscovering his mojo just at the right time with a record-breaking 25th grand slam title in sight.

It was reminiscent of how Djokovic had got involved in a confrontation with a heckler during a battle against Alexei Popyrin at this year's Australian Open and then lost just one more game as steam came from his nostrils.

This time he won 13 of the next 16 games.

"He shouted actually a few words during the rally," Djokovic said.

"He was there in the first row, and he started from the beginning of the match.

"He went on several times, which was fine, supporting my opponent. But I thought that this was a bit of a hindrance as he was so close and then, as I was about to hit the ball, he was shouting.

"So that's what I asked the chair umpire, but he explained that he cannot call that a hindrance.

"Look, they are very passionate fans. At times they are not easy and I have been having some love affairs with the fans here.

"I have experienced both sides."

Fired up, Djokovic looked nothing like the man who's been floundering on clay of late by his immense standards - and who hasn't won a title all season.

The Serb has qualified for the third round at Roland Garros for a 19th consecutive time.

Daniil Medvedev also enjoyed a straightforward passage past a potentially dangerous opponent after Miomir Kecmanovic had to retire with injury.

Kecmanovic
Miomir Kecmanovic (right) got sympathy from Daniil Medvedev after his French Open withdrawal. (EPA PHOTO)

Rising Serbian world No.57 Kecmanovic, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open this year, called on the trainer when clearly in discomfort at 6-1 5-0 down under the new Court Suzanne Lenglen roof on another dismal, grey morning in Paris.

Bulgarian 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov continued his recent fine form by crushing Hungarian Fabian Marozsan 6-0 6-3 6-4 to ease into the last 32.

Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, semi-finalist in the last three years, beat David Goffin 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-2 while Lorenzo Musetti silenced local fans in the evening session beating French favourite Gael Monfils 7-5 6-1 6-4 to set up a clash with Djokovic.

Dane Holger Rune, the 13th seed, was involved in an epic, taken the distance by Italian Flavio Cobolli, before hitting back from 5-0 and 6-2 down in the match tiebreak to win 6-4 6-3 3-6 3-6 7-6 (10-7).

Casper Ruud of Norway was also pushed hard by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina before securing a 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 6-3 4-6 6-3 win to continue his bid to make a third straight final at Roland Garros.