Djokovic's Roland Garros ambitions on track

Novak Djokovic of Serbia vs Steve Darcis of Belgium
Novak Djokovic of Serbia vs Steve Darcis of Belgium Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Top seed Novak Djokovic advanced on Thursday to the third round of the only tournament he has failed to win in his glittering career. The Serbian world number one dispatched the unseeded Belgian Steve Darcis 7-5 6-3 6-4.


Rafael Nadal, Djokovic’s long time nemesis on the clay at Roland Garros, also advanced to the third round in straight sets. His was a clinical deconstruction of the Brazilian Facundo Bagnis. It finished 6-3 6-0 6-3. Following his 6-1 6-1 6-1 dismissal of Sam Groth in the first round, 29-year-old Nadal said it had been a positive start to his quest for a record 10th title.

"I think I’ve played the way that I’ve had to play to be in the third round," said the Spaniard. "And after a difficult first three games against Facundo, I think I played a solid match with not too many mistakes and having control of the situation most of the time. I am happy with the way I am playing."

While it was plain sailing for the top and fourth seed, the sixth seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga had to call on his array of resources and the passion of the partisan crowd to get past Marcos Bagdartis. The Cypriot raced into a two set lead before he was reeled in by Tsonga’s superior power. Tsonga will have to be more vigilant as his next opponent, the mercurial Ernests Gulbis, can equal his power.

Elsewhere among the men, the promising Austrian Dominic Thiem advanced to the third round. The 13th seed produced an impressive performance to unhinge the clay court nous of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in straight sets.

In the women’s draw, the 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic moved into the third round and top seed Serena Williams was a 6-2 6-1 winner of Teliana Pereira from Brazil. Right after that destruction, the top seed’s older sister, Venus, seeded ninth this year, enjoyed an identical scoreline against Louisa Chirico.

Serena Williams beat Timea Bacsinszky in the semi-final on her way to last year’s Roland Garros crown. The eighth seeded Swiss advanced to this year’s third round at the expense of the Canadian Eugenie Bouchard. It ended 6-4 6-4 and was Bouchard’s second consecutive exit from a major in the second round. It’s a far cry from two years ago when she was surging to the semis and finals of grand slam tournaments.

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