Advertisement

Winning starts for Djokovic, Ruud at Roland Garros

Defending champion Novak Djokovic has shrugged off doubts about the state of his game with a confident 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 defeat of Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the French Open first round.

The top seed had to wait until the night match on the third day of the tournament to begin his quest for a record-extending 25th grand slam title but quickly hit his stride to dispatch the local wildcard on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Djokovic has not reached a final this year and his world No.1 ranking is under threat from Jannik Sinner.

But everything looked in fine working order against Herbert, who put up solid resistance but never looked likely to unduly concern the Serbian who has now won 72 of his 74 first-round matches in grand slam tournaments.

The only blip was in the second set when Djokovic dropped serve and was dragged into a tiebreaker but he found an extra gear to move towards victory.

"I don't want to get too excited," the 37-year-old said.

"I thought it was a good performance for me. Solid. Of course, I could have done better, I think, on return games, but also credit to him for serving very well, for changing things up.

Three-time Roland Garros champion Djokovic will face Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena in round two.

"Grand slams are the ones that are basically getting me up from the bed every day. Knowing that I have to hit the practice courts, I always think about what I can do in grand slams," Djokovic added.

"So here I am. Hopefully I can have another deep run."

Casper Ruud, the back-to-back losing finalist in Paris, earlier eased past qualifier Felipe Meligeni Alves in straight sets to launch a renewed bid for a maiden slam.

Casper Ruud.
Casper Ruud slaps a forehand back over the net to Felipe Meligeni Alves. (AP PHOTO)

Fresh from his win in Geneva last week the world No.7 looked confident, serving close to 90 per cent first serves as he sped past the Brazilian 6-3 6-4 6-3 in under two hours.

"This is one of the biggest tournaments for me and for everyone every year. One of my highlights," the 25-year-old, who also lost in the final of the 2022 US Open, said.

"I'm always looking forward to it. The last two years have given me so much here in Paris. I hope I can make it another good year.

"I think it's been a good clay season for me. Madrid and Rome could've gone a bit better. It wasn't what I hoped for. But other results went well. All in all I'm happy."

Alves had matched Ruud's power game for about an hour but gradually the mistakes piled up as the Norwegian did not give a single break point away in the entire second set.

Another early break in the third saw Ruud on the way to the second round where he will face Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who saw off Monaco's Valentin Vacherot, 4-6 6-2 6-2 7-6 (7-2).

In other results, there were wins for the 11th, 12th, 13th and 19th seeds - Australia's Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz, Holger Rune and Alexander Bublik.

With AP.