Djokovic left wanting more after facile victory

THIRD seed Novak Djokovic had only a brief workout in his opening match at the French Open as he was given a helping hand into the second round.

The Serbian, the main attraction yesterday in the men’s draw, was in full control of his match against Nicolas Lapentti on Philippe Chatrier court when Lapentti retired midway through the second set with a left ankle injury.

Djokovic, leading 6-3 3-1 at that stage, was cantering to success in windy conditions and admitted he would have liked some more competitive game time to settle into the tournament.

“I would have loved to have had more points and stayed a little bit longer on court,” said Djokovic, who will play Sergiy Stakhovsky.

Two of the leading French hopes, Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, made it through to the second round. Monfils arrived nursing a knee injury and although the 11th seed admitted feeling the problem towards the end of his 6-2 6-3 6-1 win over American Bobby Reynolds, he was happy with the win.

Ninth seed Tsonga, back in Paris after a three-year absence because of injury, won his first match at his home grand slam, defeating compatriot Julien Benneteau 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Earlier, fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro had to endure two stoppages for rain before easing through at the expense of another Frenchman, Michael Llodra.

The Argentinian was a comfortable 6-3 6-3 6-1 winner on Court One but the inclement weather tested his patience.

Mardy Fish (22) and Rainer Schuettler (27) were seeded casualties on the tournament’s third day of action.

Meanwhile second seed Serena Williams survived a real scare before booking her place in the second round with a thrilling three-set win over Klara Zakopalova today.

The American, 27, looked far from a potential champion, needing nine match points to scrape past the underdog from the Czech Republic, who is ranked 100th in the world.

An upset looked on the cards when Zakopalova broke to take a 2-1 lead in the deciding set.

Williams, who by that time had squandered five opportunities to wrap up the match, recovered well to claim four games on the bounce and move to the brink of victory.

Zakopalova amazingly saved three more match points as she launched a mini-fightback, breaking to go 5-4 down, but Williams clinched victory at the ninth time of asking to seal a 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 6-4 triumph in two hours and 25 minutes.

It was 2002 champion Williams’ first win of the clay-court season and ended a four-match losing streak, the longest of her 14-year career.

Serena joins sister Venus in round two, where she will play Virginia Ruano Pascual.

Earlier, there were routine wins for seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and fifth seed Jelena Jankovic.

Russia’s Kuznetsova, the only woman to beat world number one and tournament favourite Dinara Safina on clay this season, eased through 6-1 6-4 against debutant Claire Feuerstein.

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