Roland Garros

'Honoured' Djokovic reaches second round after first men's singles night match

Novak Djokovic is seeking a 19th Grand Slam tournament trophy at the French Open.
Novak Djokovic is seeking a 19th Grand Slam tournament trophy at the French Open. REUTERS - CHRISTIAN HARTMANN

Top seed Novak Djokovic said he was honoured to compete in the first night session men’s singles match at the French Open on Tuesday following a straight sets win over Tennys Sandgren.

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Djokovic, seeking a 19th Grand Slam trophy, breezed through the first set 6-2. And the 34-year-old Serb looked in command as he broke his opponent at the start of the second.

But the American refused to be overwhelmed. He had a couple of chances to draw level but the Serb held firm to keep his advantage. He took the set 6-4.

An early break in the third began the rout and Djokovic raced away with the set 6-1 to conclude what he called a strange evening.

“But I'm also honoured to be the first men's match, night session, in the history of this tournament and of this court,” he said.

Silence

“I didn't mind playing in front of an empty stadium,” he added. “But hopefully all the other matches that I'm going to play in this tournament are going to have crowd on the stands, because, you know they are one of the biggest reasons why I keep on competing in professional tennis.”

Djokovic reached the final of the Italian Open last month where he lost to Rafael Nadal, the man who beat him in the 2020 French Open final.

“I thought I played really well tonight,” Djokovic added. “I moved really well. Since the latter stages of Rome tournament until now, I'm just finding my groove on the court, striking the ball well."

Sandgren, the world number 66, matched Djokovic for power but faltered in the extended exchanges. He consistently failed to deal with Djokovic’s greater variety of shot.

“So I'm going to try to keep that up,” said Djokovic. “It's a long tournament. But I'll take it match by match. And physically I'm also fit and I’m motivated.”

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