Novak Djokovic extended his perfect season into the French Open, beating Thiemo de Bakker 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 Monday in the first round.
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The second-seeded Serb improved his 2011 record to 38-0 – and stretched his winning streak to 40 – on the second day of the tournament at Roland Garros. And he barely broke a sweat doing it, breaking his Dutch opponent six times.
Roger Federer, meanwhile, joined Djokovic in the second round by beating Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3), but sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych was knocked out by French journeyman Stephane Robert in five sets.
Djokovic walked out onto center court as the co-favorite after beating Rafael Nadal in two clay-court finals leading up to the French Open. He could only meet Nadal in the final at Roland Garros, and if he does he will be assured of taking over the No. 1 ranking from the Spaniard regardless of that result.
”Pressure is always there,” said Djokovic, who turned 24 on Sunday. ”I know there is a lot of expectations because of the streak I have, but, look, I’m really happy the way I’m handling things right now on and off the court.”
Djokovic needs five more wins to break John McEnroe’s Open era record of 42 for the best unbeaten start, and a sixth victory will make him the first man to win the Australian and French Opens back-to-back since Jim Courier in 1992.
”Coming into a Grand Slam with three titles on clay courts and winning against the best player ever on this surface gives me a lot of motivation, a lot of confidence that I’m trying to use on the court,” Djokovic said.
Nadal, who is looking for his sixth French Open title, doesn’t get on court until Tuesday, but Federer progressed without facing a single break point against his Spanish opponent.
”Important thing from my side was to be solid in my own serve,” Federer said, ”which I was all the way through from start to finish.”
The third-seeded Federer, who completed a career Grand Slam at Roland Garros two years ago, lost in the quarterfinals last year to end a streak of 23 straight major semifinal appearances.
Berdych, who last year reached the semifinals at the French Open and the final at Wimbledon, was knocked out by the 140th-ranked Robert 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 9-7.
”Maybe it’s too early to analyze how was that or what was happening on the court,” Berdych said ”That’s what can happen in the long matches, and … sadly it happened to me today.”
Berdych held a match point while leading 5-4 in the fifth set, but Robert saved it and went on to earn only his second win at a Grand Slam tournament.
Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki showed no sign of trouble from a heavily taped left thigh and beat 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan 6-0, 6-2 Monday in the first round of the French Open.
The 20-year-old Wozniacki was born more than a year after Date-Krumm made her Roland Garros debut in 1989. Date-Krumm made the French Open semifinals in 1995, retired the next season, then returned to the tour 12 years later.
Wozniacki made only nine unforced errors Monday, 19 fewer than her opponent.
The Dane had her left leg treated during her victory in the final of a clay-court tournament in Brussels on Saturday. She leads the tour with four titles in 2011.
Wozniacki is bidding for her first Grand Slam championship. She next faces qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada.
In the opening match on center court, defending champion Francesca Schiavone bounced back to winning ways by beating Melanie Oudin of the United States 6-2, 6-0.
Schiavone, who last year became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title, won four straight games in the first set after being broken early by her 19-year-old American opponent. The fifth-seeded Schiavone, who had 25 winners to Oudin’s six, then won seven straight games to reach the second round.
”I’m still shaking a little bit,” Schiavone said of playing on Court Philippe Chatrier for the first time as defending champion. ”The court is perfect. Everything is going around you and it’s like – you know when you go home and your mom does everything for you and you feel comfortable?”
Last week, Schiavone had her best result of the season, reaching the semifinals at the Brussels Open.
No. 3 Vera Zvonareva of Russia, No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, No. 28 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and No. 30 Roberta Vinci of Italy also advanced, while No. 26 Nadia Petrova of Russia and No. 31 Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic lost.
In the men’s draw, No. 9 Gael Monfils of France, No. 10 Mardy Fish of the United States, No. 12 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, No. 15 Viktor Troicki of Serbia, No. 23 Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil, No. 25 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 28 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and No. 29 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia all reached the second round. No. 22 Michael Llodra of France lost.
Del Potro, who won the U.S. Open in 2009, is one of only four Grand Slam champions in the men’s tournament, along with Nadal, Djokovic and Federer. The Argentine beat Ivo Karlovic 6-7 (7), 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
”It’s difficult to play against Karlovic, because you don’t have many chance to break his serve,” Del Potro said of the tall Croat. ”I was focused in the beginning to the final, and I got through it.”