French Open: Novak Djokovic beats battling Marton Fucsovics to reach third round at Roland Garros


Novak Djokovic briefly struggled before bulldozing past Marton Fucsovics in straight sets to reach the third round of the French Open.

The world number three sparked controversy by writing “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia” on a camera lens earlier this week. He told Serbian media he would do it again but, after his 7-6 (7-2) 6-0 6-3 victory, he instead opted to write his signature and a smiley face.

Speaking to reporters after his win, Djokovic said: “I would say it again, but I don’t need to because you have my quotes if you want to reflect on that.

“Of course I’m aware that a lot of people would disagree, but it is what it is. It’s something that I stand for. So that’s all.

“I have no more comment on that. I said what I needed to say.”

Djokovic beats battling Fucsovics

Djokovic, who is bidding for a record-breaking 23rd men’s singles Grand Slam title, was forced to fight through an epic first set that lasted almost 90 minutes before eventually making light work of the next two.

The Serb initially raced into a 3-0 lead in the first set before a battling Fucsovics broke back and eventually tied things up a five games apiece.

An increasingly frustrated Djokovic was seen yelling at his box during the first set before he eventually closed it out by breezing though the tiebreaker 7-2.

World number 83 Fucsovics’ spirit was crushed after having worked so hard without reward in the first set and Djokovic proceeded to break the Hungarian’s serve four times in succession as he claimed the second set to love and went 1-0 up in the third.

Fucsovics immediately broke back to half threaten a fightback but Djokovic’s class ultimately told and he will next face Spanish 29th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the last 32.

World No 1 Alcaraz overcomes tricky test

World No 1 Carlos Alcaraz came through a tricky early test in the second round, needing four sets to beat Japan’s Taro Daniel.

Alcaraz, who enjoyed a dominant opening win over Flavio Cobolli in his first match, made another blistering start against Daniel to breeze through the opening set 6-1.

But Daniel pounced early in the second to seize a 3-0 advantage, courtesy of some relentless baseline hitting against the suddenly error-prone Spaniard, before ultimately levelling things up with by taking the set 6-3.

But the Japanese world number 112 was quickly on the back foot again as Alcaraz regained focus to break early in the third on his way to claiming another set 6-1, before closing things out 6-2 in the fourth.

Alcaraz will play Canadian 26th seed Denis Shapovalov in the third round after he beat Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi 6-2 3-6 6-3 6-3 on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the men’s draw, fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas enjoyed an incident-free path through to the last 32 with a straight-sets win over Roberto Carballes Baena, 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

Former French Open champion in 2015, Stan Wawrinka, lost out in a five-set epic to Thanasi Kokkinakis, who defeated Britain’s Dan Evans in the opening round.

The Australian, who came out of the wrong side of a five-set epic against Andy Murray at his home Grand Slam in January, this time prevailed 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3.

Home favourite Garcia knocked out

In the women’s draw, French fifth seed Caroline Garcia became the highest-ranked women’s player to exit the tournament so far with a second-round loss to Anna Blinkova.

Blinkova, ranked 56th in the world, had never before beaten a top-five player but battled back from a set down to triumph 4-6 6-3 7-5, finally taking her ninth match point.

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka, who can become world No 1 with victory at Roland Garros, fought off fellow Belarusian Iryna Shymanovich 7-5 6-2, while world number three Jessica Pegula advanced to the third round after her opponent Camila Giorgi retired after losing the opening set 6-2.

Former French Open champion in 2017, Jelena Ostapenko, lost out 6-3 1-6 6-2 to American Peyton Stearns, while ninth seed Daria Kasatkina defeated former finalist Marketa Vondrousova 6-3 6-4.

Three-time quarter-finalist Elina Svitolina continued to impress in her comeback slam, fighting back to beat Australian Storm Hunter 2-6 6-3 6-1.

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