Novak Djokovic opens French Open title defense with straight-sets victory in first Grand Slam match in 7 1/2 months

BySimon Cambers via via logo
May 23, 2022, 6:09 PM

Novak Djokovic's first Grand Slam match in 7½ months went about as well as possible.

The No. 1-seeded Djokovic opened his title defense at the French Open with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 victory in less than two hours over Yoshihito Nishioka. He improved to 18-0 for his career in the first round at Roland Garros.

About the only uncomfortable moment for Djokovic might have been when some spectators booed after he let out some yells upon winning points in the second set.

The match was played Monday night with the retractable roof at Court Philippe Chatrier shut because of rain.

Djokovic, who turned 35 on Sunday, is pursuing a third title in Paris and a 21st Grand Slam trophy overall, which would tie him with Rafael Nadal for the men's record.

He hadn't played in a major tournament since losing to Daniil Medvedev in the U.S. Open final last September, ending Djokovic's bid to complete the first calendar-year Grand Slam for a man since 1969.

Djokovic could not compete at the Australian Open this January because he has decided not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. There is no vaccine requirement for the French Open.

Meanwhile, Nadal chalked up yet another record at Roland Garros on Monday as he won his 106th French Open match.

The 13-time champion cruised to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 first-round win over Jordan Thompson of Australia, wrapping up the victory in just over two hours.

Nadal's win-loss record at Roland Garros in Paris now stands at 106-3, better than any man has managed at any of the four Grand Slam events. Djokovic (twice) and Robin Soderling are the only men to beat him at the French Open.

The Spanish player's victory was also his 299th in Grand Slams, a total beaten only by Roger Federer and Djokovic.

"It's incredible for me to play here on Court Philippe Chatrier another time," Nadal said. "I'm very happy with my victory today. Always happy to win the first round and happy to win in three sets."

Nadal will meet Frenchman Corentin Moutet in the second round.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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