Novak Djokovic

Djokovic overcomes a baptism of fire in Paris

The Serbian is looking for his fourth cup at Roland Garros

May 28, 2024

Novak Djokovic seeks sporting redemption at Roland Garros, where he aspires to lift his 25th Grand Slam cup and extend his status as the greatest historical champion. At 37 years old, in a season where he will need to push himself to continue at the top of the sport, the Balkan redoubles his efforts on the clay of Paris in search of his highest level. If a fourth Musketeers Cup awaits on the horizon, the Serbian dealt his first blow this Tuesday.

The first seed had to resolve a close match, stopping Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-4, whose hand speed was cheered by the Philippe Chatrier stands. Under the retractable roof that the rains forced to deploy, the Serbian fought in a match of intermittent pace, marked by the fleeting serve and constant climbs to his rival’s net. In this scenario of permanent dangers, the Serb’s ability to survive served to overcome the first obstacle in the picture.

Far from having a strong debut, Novak immersed himself in a match of minimal differences against the world No. 142, driven by the opportunity to compete again in the domestic major. With a game that was difficult to predict, the Frenchman tightened the screws on the three-time champion, who was barely able to get away on the scoreboard until the end of the match. Djokovic’s order, which retained 80% of his service points, was essential to close a slim victory in Paris.

The Balkan will use his experience to try to find the cruising pace at Roland Garros, a stage he knows like no other candidate in the draw. The Serbian, who has reached at least the quarterfinals every year since 2010, faces his 20th participation in the French Grand Slam. Nole has never left empty in Paris, accumulating a record of 20-0 in the first rounds of the tournament.

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Now, the second round of the tournament will serve to measure whether Djokovic’s shots are well geared. In a clash with a pure aroma of clay, the current champion will next face the Spanish Roberto Carballés Baena, winner 6-3, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 over the local Constant Lestienne. The Serbian dominates the Lexus ATP Head2Head history 2-0 in a rivalry entirely built on Grand Slam, including the duel fought last January at the Australian Open. Novak has never lost a round against the Granada native.

Roland Garros represents a key stage in the Serb’s sporting reign, forced to reach the final in Paris to have a chance of maintaining No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings at the close of the tournament. With the presence of the Italian Jannik Sinner as an immediate threat to his throne, in an open rivalry between generations, the current champion measures his steps on the French clay with special caution.

The Balkan has arrived at the Roland Garros event after a start to the season full of obstacles, far from the imperial level with which he has built his legend in the sport. The one from Belgrade, who has not reached a final in 2024 after accumulating a record of 14-6, has landed in the second Grand Slam of the season as No. 13 in the PIF ATP Live Race To Turin.

Did you know…?
Novak Djokovic aspires to become the third man to retain the Roland Garros singles title in the 21st century. The Balkan, who defends the cup raised in 2023, can follow in the footsteps of the Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten (2000-01) and the Spanish Rafael Nadal (2005-08, 2010-14, 2017-20).


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