Novak Djokovic was given a stern reminder that winning a maiden French Open title this year will not be easy after coming through a testing first-round encounter against determined Belgian David Goffin last night.
The top seed and last year’s runner-up is looking to complete his set of grand slam titles in the Roland Garros fortnight, but his opening opponent provided a stiff challenge.
Goffin largely matched the world number one stroke for stroke throughout an entertaining encounter and Djokovic had to produce some of his best tennis to claim a 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 7-5 win in two hours and 13 minutes.
“It was a good match, David is a good player and has a lot of talent,” Djokovic said afterwards. “I’m happy to win and hope to continue like this.”
Twelfth seed Tommy Haas has been enjoying one of the best seasons of his career at the age of 35 and he had little trouble defeating Frenchman Guillaume Rufin 7-6 (7/4) 6-1 6-3.
Bernard Tomic will be heading home after going out to Victor Hanescu. The 20-year-old felt a tear in his right leg on only the second point and eventually withdrew trailing 7-5 7-6 (10/8) 2-1.
Meanwhile Marion Bartoli scrapped into the second round of the women’s draw.
The rain delays mean the likes of third seed Victoria Azarenka and former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will have to play their first-round matches today.
Bartoli, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2011, is France’s main hope in the women’s event but she was very nearly a first-round casualty, saving two match points before defeating Olga Govortsova 7-6 (10/8) 4-6 7-5.
Bartoli saved two match points with Govortsova serving at 5-3 in the decider and then won four games in a row to secure victory after three hours and 12 minutes.
The 13th seed said: “It was a very lengthy, tricky day. I started at 11am and then again at 2pm and we finished at 6pm, so it was a very long match and the rain interruption I think was to my disadvantage because I think I was dominating a little bit initially, physically at least.”
There were no such dramas for 2010 finalist Sam Stosur who trounced Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-0 6-2 while Jelena Jankovic came from 5-0 down in the second set to defeat Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 7-6 (9/7).
Azarenka begins her campaign today against Elena Vesnina while Kvitova plays France’s Aravane Rezai.
Top seed Serena Williams is scheduled to play her second-round match against French teenager Caroline Garcia in the final match.
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