Defending champion Novak Djokovic overcame a wobble in the third set to progress to the third round of the French Open with a 6-2 6-3 7-6(4) win over Alex Molcan.
After cruising through the opening two sets, Djokovic saw Molcan up his level in the third and was made to dig deep in at times blustery conditions on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.
While it was fairly plain sailing for much of the contest, Djokovic admitted it was a struggle due to the gusty conditions.
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“It was a difficult match,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “The conditions were not easy.
“There was a lot of wind and it changed direction a lot.
“It meant that I had to concentrate a lot and I had to adapt a lot because the speed of the ball changed a lot during the match.”
'Very one-sided' - Djokovic takes opening set in style against Molcan
Up next for Djokovic in round three is a clash with Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia.
After a controversial start to the year in which he was deported from Australia, missing the first Grand Slam of 2022, Djokovic’s sharpness has improved through the European spring.
He was impressive in winning the Italian Open for a sixth time, suggesting he was peaking for the defence of his French Open title.
Yoshihito Nishioka took only four games off the world No. 1 in the first round, but Molcan gave Djokovic a tougher examination.
But for two sets it did not look like being the case as the left-handed Slovak had no answer to the baseline brilliance of Djokovic early in the contest, and the biggest worry for the Serb in the first two sets was his irritation with the umpire’s use of the shot clock.
After taking the opening set without alarm, he got involved in a discussion over the shot clock. Djokovic seemed to feel Eva Asderaki-Moore was starting the clock too quickly - and for a moment it looked like he would boil over.
Drop shot, lob, tweener - Djokovic gets Molcan on the run in entertaining rally
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Molcan was unable to take advantage and Djokovic took a stranglehold on the match when easing through the second set.
The underdog’s race looked run when he was broken at the start of the third set. But to his credit, Molcan rallied and attacking tennis paid off as he broke back courtesy of a couple of forays to the net and Djokovic losing his radar on first serve.
Molcan began to hit the ball with real authority as the third set progressed, and he took it to a breaker.
Djokovic upped the decibel levels in the breaker, which was a clear indication that he was under pressure, but he worked a decisive mini-break when a net cord from Molcan went wide and he was able to close out the match in two hours and 16 minutes.
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