Djokovic makes strong start
Originally published on 29/05/17 00:00
Under the watchful eye of new coach Andre Agassi, the world No.2 patrolled the baseline with intent and dictated proceedings with his crisp and precise groundstrokes. It was far from a vintage display, though, but the Serbian was always in control against an opponent who has won just one clay-court match this year.
"Andre has left already. He's waiting for me for a serious talk," joked the 12-time Grand Slam champion after his win. "It's great to have Andre Agassi as coach and as a mentor. I will try to learn as much as I can from him."
Rafael Nadal wasted little time booking his spot in the second round. The nine-time champion outclassed the mercurial Frenchman, Benoit Paire, and eased to a 6-1 6-4 6-1 success in just one hour and 52 minutes.
Paire’s world-class backhand and delicate touch on the dropshot helped him stay close in the second set, but he could not maintain his level and was soon traipsing to the locker-room after a chastening defeat.
“The most important thing is to be through,” remarked Nadal. ”To win in three [sets] is always better but I’m sorry for Benoit. He is a dangerous opponent and a very talented player. He is able to change the rhythm of the point very quickly with his great backhand and great dropshots, and he is able to serve well sometimes.
“Today I started strong and he started making more mistakes than usual with his forehand. In the second set, he had a chance for 5-3, but I played a good point and after that everything was a little less difficult.”
Milos Raonic, who has struggled with a hamstring issue for much of the season, recorded a one-sided 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over Steve Darcis. The Canadian clubbed an impressive 44 winners as he marched into the second round.
“It's always good to start and to be as efficient as possible,” said Raonic. “I was able to break relatively early in all three sets and just sort of go about my business throughout the whole match. So I'm happy with that, and it gives me a little more freedom to spend more time working on my game tomorrow and hopefully play even better on Wednesday.”
Jiri Vesely defeated No.14 seed Jack Sock 7-5 7-5 6-3 to claim a surprise win. The Czech appears to enjoy the big occasion however it’s a disappointing outcome for the American, who has the tools to excel on the red dirt.
There was also frustration for another ranked player. Nikoloz Basilashvili ousted home-favourite and No.31 seed, Gilles Simon, 6-1 2-6 6-4 6-1 to claim a sizeable scalp and move into the second round of Roland Garros for the first time in his career.
Elsewhere, David Goffin surged past Paul-Henri Mathieu for the concession of just six games and Diego Schwartzman edged an epic-tussle with Andrey Rublev 9-7 in the decider. There were also comfortable wins for Marin Cilic, Roberto Bautista Agut, Borna Coric, Lu Yen-Hsun, Aljaz Bedene, Simone Bolelli and Viktor Troicki.