French Open 2018

Qualifier pushes rusty Djokovic

Novak Djokovic hits a forehand during his 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-4 second-round win over Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar at the French Open yesterday. His next opponent will be another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut.
Novak Djokovic hits a forehand during his 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-4 second-round win over Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar at the French Open yesterday. His next opponent will be another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Serb through to third round after battling to seal victory against the world No. 155

PARIS • Novak Djokovic's target practice often failed to hit the bull's eye but that did not prevent him from grinding out a 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-4 second-round win over Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar at the French Open yesterday.

The former world No. 1 Serb, who has 12 Grand Slam titles to his name, started off by serving a fault, ended the opening game with a double fault and fired plenty of wayward shots wide and long as he tried to subdue the 155th-ranked Munar.

Djokovic was so restless that after being broken in the ninth game of the first set, instead of sitting down and taking in some fluids, he simply walked over to the other side of the net and went through the motions of playing some air shots.

While it was obvious his game is still a long way from the form he produced to win four Grand Slams on the trot from 2015 to 2016, his surgically repaired elbow got a workout before he set up a third-round clash with Roberto Bautista Agut.

The Spaniard defeated Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.

"I am very happy to be here on (Court) Suzanne Lenglen and see so many people and see the support," said Djokovic, who is seeded 20th this year after returning from a second procedure on his right elbow in January.

"Jaume is a great player, he has lots of quality and good concentration. I congratulate him on a great match today."

The statistics also showed that Djokovic - who improved to 61-12 at Roland Garros - was not at his best, firing 39 winners but serving five double faults, hitting 33 unforced errors and being broken three times by Munar.

"I didn't play so great but, at the right time, I guess I managed to come up with a good enough game to win it," the 31-year-old added.

"My tennis is not at the level that I would like it to be, but the tournament is just starting for me and it's not easy. I'm doing my best."

Meanwhile, Marco Trungelliti's Roland Garros adventure came to an end when the Argentinian who made an 11th-hour, 800km hire car dash with his 88-year-old grandmother and other family members to reach the tournament on time, finally ran out of gas.

Trungelliti, who opted to drive to the French capital from Barcelona to sign in on Monday morning as a lucky loser to claim a place in the main draw, was beaten 6-1, 7-6 (7-1), 6-1 by Italian Marco Cecchinato yesterday.

It was a low-key exit for the man who had been the talk of the tournament but, having beaten Australia's Bernard Tomic in his opener, his exploits over the last few days earned him €99,000 (S$154,000).

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2018, with the headline 'Qualifier pushes rusty Djokovic'. Print Edition | Subscribe