PARIS – World number one and holder Novak Djokovic reached the second round of the French Open with a comfortable start to his quest for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam, beating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3 6-1 6-0 on Monday.
It took less than two hours for the 35-year-old Serb to lose to world number 99 Japan in the first Grand Slam of the year after missing the Australian Open on Sunday.
“I have to be satisfied with the match. I struggled to adapt to the first set. He is a very fast player. The first set was close but I cruised through the second and third, ”Djokovic told reporters.
“I always hoped the highest for myself but it was a very good start.”
Fresh from his Italian Open win without dropping a set eight days ago, defending champion broke Nishioka, who had set up a risky strategy to play at a solid angle from the start, to go 4-2 up.
Djokovic, unable to defend his Australian Open title due to his refusal to vaccinate against COVID-19 and his subsequent exile in the media frenzy, lost a set point at 5-2 but was comfortably served to close out.
The Serbs never wavered with Nishioka and pushed into the next two sets, dropping one game in the process.
He finished the competition when Nishioka sent another forehand to advance to the second round as he wanted to match co-title winner Rafael Nadal’s 21 Grand Slam wins.
“I was waiting to go to court,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been feeling good in the mud for the last few weeks. I’m glad to be back. The memory of last year is fresh in my mind. ”
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