The demand rises and the problems increase, but the conclusions remain. Novak Djokovic, as he already made clear in Madrid and, above all, in Rome, proclaiming himself champion, is him again. It is much closer to its winning version, the one that defends the title in Paristhat of his erratic version, the one he showed in his discontinuous start to the season, marked by his refusal to get vaccinated. It was clear in his debut at Roland Garros, giving up only four games against the Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka, and he has ratified it against the Slovakian Alex Molcan, 38th in the world. 6-2, 6-2 and 7(7)-6(4) to reach the French third round for the seventeenth consecutive year, in which he will face the Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, 195th in the world.
Few players on the circuit can know both Nole and Molcan. At least, on paper, in terms of theory. At the beginning of March, Marian Vajda and the Serbian player parted ways sixteen years later, with an interruption between 2018 and 2019 included. The Slovak coach, present at all of Djokovic’s Grand Slams, decided to step aside to focus on his family and personal life. About three months later, however, Vajda found himself on the opposite side of the track. “It’s the first time I’ve seen Marian in the other box…”, joked a smiling Nole after his victory. Vajda, with the intention of promoting tennis in his country, is the new coach of a young Molcan (24 years old) who left flashes, but who were far from disturbing Novak.
“Conditions were difficult and changeable. I was looking for changes of direction in the gamekeep me focused. Alex’s ball speed has been impressive,” Djokovic analyzed his rival, whom he faced in 2021 in the Belgrade final, when the Slovakian was 155th in the world. Molcan started out docile, but ended up biting. Mainly, as Nole explained, thanks to his quick left arm (Nole’s 97-11 record against left-handers, not counting Nadal) and his impudence, which led him, on many occasions, to accept Novak’s game from the back of the court. And to challenge, as in a precise drop, with break ball against (1-1), in a third set in which the one in the world was demanded for the first time in the tournament.
demanding first moment
Test passed by Djokovic. True to his style, with great security in his turns of serve (71% of points won with first and 61% with seconds), seriousness (19 unforced errors to 34) and aggressiveness at key moments (40 winners to 31 and 10 aces), as in the final tie-break. Just before joking around with the public and the organization, speaking French, demonstrating ability with languages, as it did in Madrid, giving the interviews in Spanish. “I’ve listened to them the whole game. I’ll try to sign them all, I know how excited they are. They’re in one of the best tournaments in the world,” he said, pointing to all the children present at the Suzanne Lenglen. And he is the champion, hungry to defend his title.
Roland Garros ATP Draw Results