PARIS, May 31: Former champion Novak Djokovic reached the French Open third round for the 13th consecutive year by beating Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday, while women’s top seed Simona Halep battled to victory in her opening match.
Romania's Simona Halep gestures after defeating Alison Riske of the United States in the first round match of the French Open at the Roland Garros in Paris. - AP/PTI
Djokovic, the 2016 Roland Garros champion and former world number one, is seeded 20 this year after struggling to rediscover his best form after returning from a right elbow injury.
He wasn’t at his best on Court Suzanne Lenglen, but goes on to face Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the last 16.
The Serbian 12-time Grand Slam champion fired 39 winners but was broken three times by Munar, the world 155.
“I am very happy to be here on Suzanne Lenglen and see so many people and see the support,” said Djokovic.
“Jaume is a great player, he has lots of quality and good concentration. I congratulate him on a great match today.” Bautista Agut, the 13th seed, saw off Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo 6-4, 7-5, 6-3, but Czech 17th seed Tomas Berdych lost a rain-interrupted first-round match to home hope Jeremy Chardy on the showpiece Court Philippe Chatrier 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8), 1-6, 5-7, 6-2.
The unlikely adventure of Argentinian world number 190 Marco Trungelliti, who became the eighth lucky loser in the draw after driving back to Paris from Barcelona, came to an end as he lost 6-1, 7-6 (7/1), 6-1 to Italian Marco Cecchinato in the second round.
World number one Halep fought back after a disastrous opening set to beat American Alison Riske 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 in their delayed first-round match.
Halep, the runner-up in Paris in 2014 and 2017, slumped 0-5 down in the opening set to world number 83 Riske whose only win at the tournament came in 2014.
The Romanian committed 16 unforced errors in the set but stepped up a gear from that point to book a second-round match against Taylor Townsend of the United States. “It’s always difficult in the first round of a Grand Slam, you are always nervous,” said Halep.
The 26-year-old, who is still looking for a first Grand Slam title, will play for the second straight day tomorrow, after the match with Riske was pushed back from Tuesday due to rain.
“I think I’ll be ready tomorrow, I feel strong in my legs,” said the top seed.
“Anything can happen with the rain so all we can do is rest and try to be at our best when we step on the court.” Halep needs to reach the semifinals or better if she is to retain the world top spot.
Eighth seed Petra Kvitova eased into the third round with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena on Court One.
The two-time Wimbledon champion has now won 13 consecutive matches on clay after claiming titles in Prague and Madrid, and will face Estonia’s 25th seed Anett Kontaveit for a place in the last 16. – Agencies