In the first round of the French Open, Novak Djokovic started his campaign with a commanding win against American player Aleksandar Kovacevic.
The third-ranked player defeated Kovacevic in three consecutive sets, with scores of 6-3, 6-2, and 7-6 (7-1), at Roland Garros as he begins his journey towards a third grand slam title.
His win maintains his perfect record in first round matches at the French Open, improving to a 19-0 overall record.
Serbian player also achieved a milestone previously reached by Roger Federer, becoming the second player in the Open Era to win 65 consecutive first-round matches at grand slam events, from Roland Garros 2006 to 2023.
With 14-time winner Rafael Nadal not participating in the men’s competition, there is a significant chance for numerous players to rise to the occasion and win the Coupe des Mousquetaires.
Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz is one of the favorites as the top seed, but Djokovic also has a great chance to win a 23rd grand slam title, which would see him overtake Nadal at the top of the men’s all-time list and further staking his claim as the greatest male tennis player in history.
If Djokovic were to win his third French Open title, he would reclaim the number one spot in the men’s world rankings. Additionally, he currently holds 86 grand slam wins, placing him second behind Nadal’s 112.
However, the 36-year-old has faced challenges during this season on clay courts. They have not been able to advance past the quarterfinals in three events and were unable to participate in another due to an elbow injury.
In the first two rounds against Kovacevic, Djokovic appeared confident and composed, displaying no signs of being out of practice or feeling anxious as he skillfully took apart the 24-year-old opponent.
Kovacevic, who admitted to being a fan of Djokovic in his childhood and even took a photo with him at the 2005 US Open when he was seven, made a comeback in the third set by breaking Djokovic’s serve while he was serving for the win.
When Djokovic took the lead of 4-3 in the third set, he responded to the fans’ reactions by cupping his ears, which caused some booing from the crowd.
Kovacevic put up a strong fight and managed to push the match to a tiebreak, which Djokovic easily won.
The 22-time winner of the Grand Slam will now compete against Marton Fucsovics from Hungary in the second round.