|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Djokovic, Ivanovic in Round III
May 29, 2008 00:12 IST
World number three Novak Djokovic refused to get too far ahead of himself after booking his third-round berth at the French Open with consummate ease on Wednesday.
The Australian Open champion brushed aside Spain's Miguel Angel Lopez Jaen in just 80 minutes with a dominant display of power-hitting on the bullring Court One at Roland Garros.
While others have been dodging the showers and checking forecasts the last two days, the third seed has enjoyed two uninterrupted wins that could potentially see him have three matches in eight days before the semi-finals.
"I'm not thinking about semi-finals at all at this moment. I'm thinking about only winning the tournament. No, I'm joking," the Serb said after his 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 triumph.
"I'll have to go slowly, you know. Next opponent, next match. Every next match is getting tougher, tougher, and tougher. Physically I'm ready for upcoming challenges, and I think that's one of the most important things."
Djokovic did not face a single break point against Lopez Jaen, who was totally outclassed in the first two sets and only briefly threatened a fightback in the third, holding serve to 3-3.
The Serb, looking fresh after spending fewer than four hours on court for his first two matches, said he prepared for the match by watching Maria Sharapova's [Images] tough opening-round clash on Centre Court.
"We watched it from the men's locker room. Whenever some of the nice looking girls are playing we're sitting and watching," the Serb grinned.
"Yeah, she was struggling, but, you know, it's challenging for her. She's always a favourite, so it's not easy.
"I experienced it myself in the match today, and especially in the start. It was a lot of wind and a lot of difficulties, and it was not easy to get used to that and accept it.
"But, you know, you're a professional player, so you have to play under a lot of different circumstances."
Also, it turned out to be third time lucky for Rafael Nadal [Images] on Wednesday as the torrential downpours finally relented at the French Open and allowed the three-times champion to complete a belated first-round win.
Nadal, however, made heavy weather of the first set before recording a 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 win over Brazilian qualifier Thomaz Bellucci.
The Spaniard, unbeaten at Roland Garros since making his debut in 2005, had been scheduled to play his match on Monday but had to go back to his hotel without hitting a ball.
He managed to contest only two games on Tuesday before rain again played spoilsport and cut short the day's action.
Resuming at 1-1 on Wednesday the Spaniard got a nasty surprise when he realised that swirling winds had replaced the rain, creating a sandstorm on Philippe Chatrier Court.
"The conditions are very, very bad today. The winds were terrible on Centre Court," grumbled Nadal, who will have to be back on Thursday in second-round action.
The conditions were definitely not to his liking and Nadal was quickly drawn into an 11-minute tussle in the first game after the restart.
Try as he might, and despite flexing his bulging muscles between each point, Nadal could not intimidate an opponent making his grand slam debut and promptly dropped his serve.
If Bellucci had started harbouring hopes of causing an upset, they did not last long.
Although he never hit top gear during the contest which lasted two hours and 34 minutes in actual court time, Nadal eventually coasted to victory when Bellucci smacked a backhand long.
"These were two difficult days, because as time goes by you get more nervous and you can't practise, so I probably lost the rhythm I had acquired before this tournament," said Nadal, who had scooped up titles in Monte Carlo and Hamburg in the run-up to the claycourt major.
"But I hope this won't be a problem for the rest of the tournament for me to play well." The second seed will aim to extend his perfect Roland Garros record to 23-0 when he faces French qualifier Nicolas Devilder for a place in the third round.
IVANOVIC BEATS SAFAROVA
Ana Ivanovic showed no mercy as she thundered into the third round of the French Open with a 6-1, 6-2 win over a hapless Lucie Safarova.
The Serbian second seed basked in the sunshine on the bullring Court One as she smothered her Czech opponent in a quickfire 55 minutes.
Safarova made it through to the fourth round last year, claiming the scalp of local darling Amelie Mauresmo en route, but there was to be no repeat.
Ivanovic ended Safarova's brief stay at this year's championships by punching a forehand winner down the line on her first match point.
The 20-year-old, runner-up in last year's final to the retired Justine Henin [Images], will next face either Belarussian qualifier Anastasiya Yakimova or Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.