Express & Star

Novak Djokovic wins Roland Garros opener in straight sets

The world number one disposed of home player Pierre-Hugues Herbert at the French Open.


Novak Djokovic got the defence of his Roland Garros title off to a solid if unspectacular start with a straight-sets win over French wild card Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

The world number one said he arrived at Roland Garros with “low expectations and high hopes” after suffering some uncharacteristic defeats this year.

The crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier probably felt much the same about their man’s chances, with Herbert a lowly 142 in the rankings.

Novak Djokovic falls chasing down a ball at the net against Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Novak Djokovic falls chasing down a ball at the net (Christophe Ena/AP)

And so it transpired, as an underwhelming night-session match went the way of the 24-time grand slam champion 6-4 7-6 (3) 6-4.

The only moment of slight drama came deep in the third set when Djokovic took a nasty tumble down by the net, and was booed by the ever-friendly Paris crowd as he towelled himself down.

“C’est normal, l’ambiance,” he said while addressing the crowd afterwards, before translating the remark as: “It’s normal, the atmosphere. Merci pour l’ambiance (thank you for the atmosphere).”

Two-time runner-up Casper Ruud gained some belated family revenge by beating Brazilian qualifier Felipe Meligeni Alves in straight sets.

In the final of the 1995 Swedish Open in Bastad, Meligeni Alves’ uncle Fernando Meligeni beat Ruud’s father Christian to win the title.

Casper Ruud celebrates his win over Felipe Meligeni Alves
Casper Ruud celebrates his win over Felipe Meligeni Alves (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)

“I think both me and my dad wanted to get some revenge,” said Ruud. “It was worth the wait, I guess. It was many years we had to wait, but we got it today.

Australian Alex de Minaur proved to be a speed demon, the 11th seed racing past American Alex Michelsen 6-1 6-0 6-2 in just one hour and 48 minutes.

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