Novak Djokovic got his French Open campaign off to a winning start with a dominant victory over American Aleksandar Kovacevic in the first round.
The No. 3 seed beat Kovacevic in straight sets, 6-3 6-2 7-6(7-1), at Roland Garros as he begins his quest for a third title at the grand slam.
The victory continues his undefeated record in first round French Open matches, moving to 19-0 for his career.
The Serbian also matched a record first set by Roger Federer, becoming the second player in the Open Era to win 65 consecutive first-round matches at grand slam events – between Roland Garros 2006 and 2023.
Without 14-time champion Rafael Nadal in the men’s draw, there is a big opportunity for many players to step up and claim the Coupe des Mousquetaires.
Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz is one of the favorites as the top seed, but Djokovic also has a great chance to win a 23rd grand slam title, which would see him overtake Nadal at the top of the men’s all-time list and further staking his claim as the greatest male tennis player in history.
If Djokovic is able to claim a third French Open title, he would return to the top of the men’s world rankings. He also now has 86 wins at the grand slam, second only to Nadal’s 112.
But the 36-year-old has struggled this clay-court season, failing to get beyond the quarterfinals of three events and missing another with an elbow injury.
In the opening two sets against Kovacevic though, Djokovic showed no signs of rust or nerves, calmly dissecting the 24-year-old.
However, Kovacevic – who was a self-professed Djokovic fan as a child and posed for a picture with the Serbian as a seven-year-old at the 2005 US Open – rallied in the third set, breaking Djokovic when he was serving for the match.
Djokovic was the subject of boos from the watching fans when he cupped his ears to the crowd after going up 4-3 in the third set.
Kovacevic eventually battled hard enough to force the third set to a tiebreak which Djokovic won tidily.
The 22-time grand slam champion will now face Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the second round.