Djokovic Advances in French Open, Eyes 25th Grand Slam

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Aiming for his fourth trophy on the clay courts of Paris, the 37-year-old Djokovic showed flashes of his best tennis…reports Asian Lite News

Top seed Novak Djokovic continued his quest for a record-extending 25th Grand Slam with another comfortable display even as Alexander Zverev backed up his statement win against Rafael Nadal with a dominant display against David Goffin in the French Open on Thursday.

Aiming for his fourth trophy on the clay courts of Paris, the 37-year-old Djokovic showed flashes of his best tennis across a convincing 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory against Roberto Carballes Baena.

Zverev, the fourth-seeded German, who upset 14-time winner Nadal in straight sets in the opening round, came up with another fine display in his clash with Goffin as he overpowered the Belgian, 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-2, hitting 37 winners under the roof on Court Suzanne-Lenglen to advance after two hours and 22 minutes.

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Denis Shapovalov of Canada also moved into the third round by winning in contrasting styles. Dimitrov, the 10th seed, romped past Fabian Marozsan of Hungary 6-0, 6-3,6-4 while Shapovalov came back after losing the first set to hand 25th seed Frances Taifoe of the United States, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 defeat in a second-round clash on Court 11.

Defending champion Djokovic cranked up his level late in the first set and rarely looked back Thursday as he got the better of Roberto Carballes Baena.

A highly contested opening set ended with Djokovic producing more aggressive baseline play, stepping in on returns and manoeuvring the Spaniard from corner to corner to earn a decisive break at 5-4. Djokovic built upon his momentum with clean ball-striking and quickly jumped to a double break 4-0 advantage in the second set.

Djokovic, who must reach at least the final to have a chance to hold off Jannik Sinner and remain World No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, brought the crowd to a standing ovation in the opening game of the third set when he responded to Carballes Baena’s drop shot by skillfully hitting the ball around the net post. The Serbian won 55 per cent of his return points, according to Infosys Stats, and broke Carballes Baena’s serve seven times to improve to 3-0 in his ATP head-to-head series with the World No. 63. All three of their meetings have come at Grand Slam level.

Zverev suffered a catastrophic ankle injury at the clay-court major in 2022, turning his ankle during his semi-final clash with Nadal at the end of the second set. After returning to Tour last year, the 27-year-old looks back to his best, having won his sixth ATP Masters 1000 crown in Rome earlier this month.

The No. 4 player in the ATP Rankings is chasing his first major title and will next play Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor or Italian Luciano Darderi. Zverev is 30-9 on the season, earning 12 of those wins on clay.

After winning a tight first set, Zverev moved through the gears in the second and third sets to take full control against former World No. 7 Goffin. The German committed just five unforced errors in the second set and did not face a break point in the third set, according to Infosys Stats, to improve to 4-2 in the pair’s ATP head-to-head series.

In other action, Felix Auger-Aliassime moved past Germany’s Henri Squire 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the third round in Paris for the second time. The 23-year-old Canadian has enjoyed success on clay this year, reaching the final at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Madrid. Auger-Aliassime will continue his run in the French capital against Ben Shelton or Kei Nishikori.

Eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz also advanced, defeating American Brandon Nakashima 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-3, 7-6(5) in three hours and 20 minutes. Hurkacz fired 16 aces and won 83 per cent (67/81) of his first-serve points.

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