French Open

Djokovic storms to 70th win at Roland Garros

Agence France-Presse
Djokovic storms to 70th win at Roland Garros

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis during their men's singles second round tennis match on Day 5 of The Roland Garros 2020 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on October 1, 2020. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)


Novak Djokovic stretches his 2020 record to 33-1, his only defeat coming via disqualification from the US Open

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic took another confident stride closer to an 18th Grand Slam title with his 70th win at Roland Garros on Thursday, October 1, as Jelena Ostapenko stunned 2nd seed Karolina Pliskova, throwing the chase for the women’s title wide open.

Djokovic, the 2016 champion, needed just 83 minutes to complete a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 demolition of Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis.

The top seed went level with Roger Federer for victories at the tournament, although still 25 behind Rafael Nadal’s all-time best.

He will now face Colombian lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galan, ranked 153, for a place in the last 16.

“It was difficult for Ricardas in the third set as he had an injury and couldn’t move very well,” said Djokovic, whose afternoon stroll was eased by his opponent needing treatment on a back problem after the second set.

“But I felt good just as I did in the first round and I want to continue like that.”

Djokovic, bidding to become the first man in half a century to win all 4 majors twice, also only dropped 5 games in his first round match against Mikael Ymer who likened facing the Serb to a “snake killing its prey.”

Victory stretched his 2020 record to 33-1, his only defeat coming via disqualification from the US Open.

Former champion Ostapenko swept second seed Pliskova out of the tournament, triumphing 6-4, 6-2 on the back of 27 winners.

In a women’s draw reeling from the injury-enforced withdrawal of Serena Williams, and the absence of world No. 1 and defending champion Ashleigh Barty, as well as US Open winner Naomi Osaka, world No. 43 Ostapenko pressed her case for a second Paris title after her shock 2017 breakthrough.

She will now face Spain’s Paula Badosa who put out Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open winner and 2018 runner-up in Paris, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

Shapovalov loses in 5 hours 

Pliskova, 28, made the semifinals in 2017 but has now failed to get beyond the third round in her 8 other appearances at the French Open.

“I tried to be aggressive but not miss too much as she’s such a great player,” said 23-year-old Ostapenko who had lost in the first round in her last two visits.

Ninth seed Denis Shapovalov committed 106 unforced errors as he crashed out following a 7-5, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 3-6, 8-6 loss to Roberto Carballes Baena.

Spanish world No. 101 Carballes Baena prevailed after a five-hour battle on Court Suzanne Lenglen to set up a clash with 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Shapovalov, who reached the quarterfinals of the US Open, twice served for the match in the final set at 5-4 and 6-5 but was broken 3 times in succession.

“It’s a dream for me to win a match like this on this court,” said Carballes Baena, 27, after advancing to the third round of a major for the first time.

“Shapovalov is very good but I did a very good match.” 

Dimitrov downed Slovakia’s Andrej Martin 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 to reach the third round for a fourth successive year.

Also moving on was two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, whose best Roland Garros run was the semifinals in 2012.

The 7th seed defeated Italy’s 94th-ranked Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 6-3 to register her 25th French Open win.

Kvitova next faces 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada, last year’s junior champion, who reached the last 32 of a Slam for the first time by seeing off Polona Hercog 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

Australian Open champion and 4th seed Sofia Kenin needed 3 sets to see off Ana Bogdan of Romania, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 while 8th-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus took down Russia’s Darya Kasatkina 7-6 (8/6), 6-0.

Kasatkina has now gone two years without beating a top 10 player.

Later, Greek 5th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who made the last 16 in Paris last year but had to come back from two sets down in the first round against Jaume Munar, faces wily Uruguayan veteran Pablo Cuevas.

The 34-year-old world No. 60 has made the third round on 4 occasions and all 6 of his career titles have come on clay.

Andrey Rublev, the mop-topped Russian who defeated Tsitsipas in the Hamburg final at the weekend and now has 3 titles in 2020, also needed to come back from two sets down in his opener against Sam Querrey.

The 22-year-old will face Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the 21-year-old world No. 70, who enjoyed a run to the last 16 at the US Open. –

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