French Open 2017

Tennis: Djokovic, Nadal triumph

Serb efficient in straight-sets victory to mark the start of his partnership with coach Agassi

Defending champion Novak Djokovic hitting a backhand during his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win against Spain's Marcel Granollers in the first round at Roland Garros yesterday.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic hitting a backhand during his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win against Spain's Marcel Granollers in the first round at Roland Garros yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Novak Djokovic's new chapter under the guidance of Andre Agassi got off to a winning start at the French Open yesterday.

The defending champion, making his 50th successive Grand Slam appearance, eased into the second round at Roland Garros with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Spain's Marcel Granollers.

The Serb announced a week ago that he had persuaded eight-time Grand Slam champion Agassi to coach him at the tournament.

Agassi remained largely impassive throughout the two hours and 27 minutes of the contest, although he did get a surprise during the third set when Djokovic's former coach Boris Becker turned up in the players' box.

Djokovic made heavier weather of it than he should have against the 77th-ranked Granollers, taking only eight of his 20 break points and dropping serve four times.

Eight of his break points came with Granollers serving at 3-5 in the second set but, although the Spaniard held on, Djokovic made no mistake on his ninth chance.

The world No. 2 has played himself into some decent form over the clay season, reaching the final in Rome on May 21, and this was a solid if unspectacular performance.


    Men's 1st rd: Jiri Vesely (Cze) bt Jack Sock (USA) 7-5 7-5 6-3 Milos Raonic (Can) bt Steve Darcis (Bel) 6-3 6-4 6-2, David Goffin (Bel) bt Paul-Henri Mathieu (Fra) 6-2 6-2 6-2, Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Ernests Gulbis (Lat) 6-3 6-3 6-3, Simone Bolelli (Ita) bt Nicolas Mahut (Fra) 6-4 6-2 6-2.

    Women's 1st rd: Samantha Stosur (Aus) bt Kristina Kucova (Svk) 7-5 6-1, Zhang Shuai (Chn) bt Donna Vekic (Cro) 7-5 6-4, Caroline Wozniacki (Den) bt Jaimee Fourlis (Aus) 6-4 3-6 6-2, Karolina Pliskova (Cze) bt Zheng Saisai (Chn) 7-5 6-2.


"It's great to have Andre Agassi as coach and as a mentor. I will try to learn as much as I can from him," he said.

Fourth seed Rafael Nadal followed Djokovic into the second round as he began his quest for a 10th title with a straightforward 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Benoit Paire of France.

The Spaniard, who was forced to withdraw before last year's third round with a wrist injury, broke Paire eight times to brush aside the world No. 45 in less than two hours.

"I'm very happy to be back here after what happened last year. It's great to feel the support," said the 14-time Grand Slam champion.

Nadal dominated the opening set, then recovered from a slight second-set wobble when he dropped serve twice in a row to surge into the second round, where he will meet Dutchman Robin Haase.

The Spaniard, whose last Grand Slam triumph came at Roland Garros in 2014, improved his incredible French Open record to 73 wins and just two losses.

Earlier yesterday, Garbine Muguruza, 23, hailed the incredible longevity of Francesca Schiavone, 36, after winning a first-round battle of French Open champions.

The Spaniard, who won her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros last year, swept aside 2010 champion Schiavone 6-2, 6-4.

"I cannot believe in the first round we have two ex-champions. Not only that, Francesca is a legend and I was very excited to play her," said Muguruza. "She has been on the Tour for such a long time... She's fitter than most of the players. I'm like, how is it possible? I think she loves it."

Italian Schiavone had planned to retire at the end of the season, but she conceded there was still a chance she could postpone her farewell.



Day 3: Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 4.30pm. Ch115 & Ch209, 5pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2017, with the headline 'Djokovic, Nadal triumph'. Print Edition | Subscribe