Nadal and Djokovic both off to a solid start in French Open

Big guns are scheduled to meet in the semi-final if they continue to progress

 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during his first round match against Spain’s Marcel Granollers. The Serbian triumphed 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during his first round match against Spain’s Marcel Granollers. The Serbian triumphed 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

 

For all the impatience in the game for the next generation to start grabbing the biggest prizes, the likelihood is that the established powers will prevail here again this year.

It’s an inkling given strength on day two of the French Open by the defending champion, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal, who stands on the threshold of more French history.

If the Spaniard can build on his encouraging start – a 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 win against the French world No45, Benoît Paire, on Court Suzanne Lenglen in one hour 52 minutes – he is headed for a semi-final collision with Djokovic.

The Serb’s campaign began in similarly ominous fashion as he took just under two-and-a-half hours to win 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on the showpiece court, Philippe Chatrier, against Nadal’s compatriot Marcel Granollers, ranked 77.

Djokovic’s first match with Andre Agassi as coach could hardly have gone better, although he confirmed later it would be a short first stint.

“He’s going to stay I think – I hope – until the end of this week. Then he has to leave because he has some things that he cannot reschedule.”

However, Djokovic said, it has already been productive.

“So far we have plenty of information, plenty of things to process. This is exactly what I need at this moment, a person like him [who] understands the transitions as a tennis player and as a person, as well, going through lifestyle and certain choices that you make, how that affects you later on. He has been through that and he has a lot to share with me outside and inside of the tennis lines. I’m really enjoying it so far.”

Nadal remains the bookmakers’ choice to win his 10th title here, something no one on the men’s or women’s tours has done at any major in the open era, which began in 1968. Margaret Court (not everyone’s favourite Australian after an outburst against same-sex marriage last week) won 11 Australian titles straddling the transformation period but in the early days the tournament often did not attract the world’s best players.

Home hope

The Spaniard warmed up for the La Décima challenge by getting to double figures in two of his other favourite clay tournaments, Barcelona and Monte Carlo, as well as his fifth in Madrid. Striving for an eighth Italian Open title, he suffered his only clay setback in 18 matches to that point, against the rising Dominic Thiem.

Kristina Mladenovic of France celebrates winning her first round match against Jennifer Brady on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Kristina Mladenovic of France celebrates winning her first round match against Jennifer Brady on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

In the women’s draw home hope Kristina Mladenovic fought through the pain barrier with a 3-6 6-3 9-7 win over American Jennifer Brady. The 13th seed, hoping to become the first Frenchwoman to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup since Mary Pierce in 2000, said she hurt her back on Sunday and was not even sure she could make it on to Court Philippe Chatrier.

“I pulled my back yesterday and specialists were saying I needed 48 hours, I was almost sure I could not take it to court today,” said Mladenovic, who burst into tears after a two-hour-59-minute tussle. “It was not the best thing obviously but I promise you I will come back and will fight until the end.”

Mladenovic surrendered her serve meekly early on and received treatment after falling 3-0 down in the opener. She looked slightly better when back on court but still appeared to be moving slowly.

Mladenovic, among the favourites after reaching the final in Stuttgart and Madrid on clay this season, stepped up a gear in the second and managed to put her opponent, who reached the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open, on the back foot. She moved up a break three times in the decider but seemed to choke under pressure, eventually prevailing in the 16th game when her opponent dinked a forehand into the net. Guardian Service

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.