Novak Djokovic on Monday started his bid for a men’s record 23rd Grand Slam singles title with a straight-sets victory over Aleksandar Kovacevic at Roland Garros, as Carlos Alcaraz dazzled in his opening victory.
Two-time Roland Garros champion Djokovic held off a late rally from his American opponent on Court Philippe Chatrier to clinch a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/1) victory.
He has still not lost in his opening match of a major since the 2006 Australian Open.
“I want to dominate whoever I play against regardless of the circumstances and who is across the net, but sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic is only seeded third this year despite the absence of his great rival and 14-time winner Rafael Nadal through injury, behind world No. 1 Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev.
He is tied with Nadal for most men’s Slam singles trophies and just one behind the 23 of Serena Williams. Margaret Court holds the all-time record of 24.
Alcaraz began his attempt to win a second Grand Slam title in fine style against Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli, the world No. 159 playing in a Grand Slam for the first time.
The top seed powered to a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory, despite also struggling to get over the line.
Former champion Stan Wawrinka, 38, out-fought Albert Ramos-Vinolas over 4 hours, 35 minutes, winning 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 1-6, 6-4 to set up a clash with Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“It’s one of the big reasons why I keep playing is to relive those emotions,” Wawrinka said of the five-set marathon.
In the women’s draw, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina won her first match at a Slam event since last year’s Australian Open, beating last year’s semi-finalist Martina Trevisan 6-2, 6-2.
The former world No. 3 recently returned to the tour following maternity leave, having previously taken a break from the sport citing health problems and mental exhaustion following Russia’s invasion of her home country.
“These kind of moments, these little wins ... on a level, which is very low, but these moments bring joy to people of Ukraine,” Svitolina said.
French fifth seed Caroline Garica gave the home fans something to cheer for with a 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-4 win over Wang Xiyu. Former runner-up Sloane Stephens dumped out 16th seed Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-4 and 2021 losing finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2, 6-2.
Baseball star Shohei Ohtani has stunningly revealed he’s married. Ohtani wrote on Thursday on Instagram in Japanese: “The season is approaching but I would like to announce to everyone that I have gotten married.” He said his new wife was a “Japanese woman” without identifying her. He said he would reveal more in an interview; presumably at the Los Angeles Dodgers spring training venue. The 29-year-old Ohtani is Japan’s biggest celebrity, and there has always been curiosity around his personal life, which he has always kept very private. His focus, and his image, has always been 100%-baseball focused — free of scandals or
Cristiano Ronaldo on Sunday faced a flurry of criticism after appearing to make an obscene gesture following the end of Al-Nassr’s 3-2 win over Al-Shabab in an exciting Saudi Pro League game. The Portugal forward opened the scoring with a 21st-minute penalty, but Al-Nassr needed a late goal from Brazilian Talisca, who struck twice, to settle the game with four minutes left. After the final whistle, social media videos captured Ronaldo cupping his ear before repeatedly pumping his hand forward in front of his pelvic area. The action appeared to be directed at the rival Al-Shabab supporters. In the background, chants of “Messi”
Taiwanese infielder Yu Chang on Sunday homered for the Tampa Bay Rays in their spring training game against the Detroit Tigers in Port Charlotte, Florida. It was Chang’s first homer for the Rays since the team on Tuesday last week announced that they had signed the 28-year-old to a minor league contract. Chang hit the solo home run to right-center field in the bottom of the second to give the Rays a 2-1 lead. However, Tampa Bay fell to 9-3 behind the Tigers by the sixth inning, before Ruben Cardenas and Kameron Misner hit home runs in the seventh. The Rays plated four more
Shohei Ohtani stepped into the bright Arizona sun, carrying the weight of a US$700 million contract and the expectations that go with it, before launching a two-run homer in his first exhibition game for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not a bad way to endear himself to his new legions of fans — not to mention his new team. “I’m starting to learn really quickly, he’s built differently,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. Ohtani needed just three exhibition at-bats to show how he might affect the Dodgers lineup on Tuesday, working a full count in the fifth inning before an opposite-field shot off Dominic