PARIS (Reuters) -World number one Novak Djokovic put on a clinical display to stroll past Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas 6-3 6-2 6-4 on Thursday and reach the third round of the French Open.
The 2016 champion arrived in Paris having won the Belgrade Open at home last week and a run to the title round at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, where he lost to Rafa Nadal, before that.
He has not lost a set yet this week and stayed solid to dismantle the challenge from claycourt specialist Cuevas, who has won all of his six Tour-level titles on clay.
“Yes, I’m playing well, feeling great,” Djokovic told reporters. “I’m ready to go deep in this tournament.
“Hopefully that’s gonna be the case, but I’ll take it match by match, and so far the two matches that I have played have been played on a high quality.
“I’m pleased with the performance today, particularly against I think a very good player, specialist on clay, someone I have never faced before, has got a lot of spin.”
Cuevas, ranked 92nd, showed flashes of resistance against the 34-year-old Serbian but the top seed raised his game when he needed to and produced some sublime winners off his backhand to keep alive his chase for a 19th Grand Slam title.
Djokovic broke Cuevas’s serve a second time to go up 5-3 in the opening set but found himself 0-40 down on his own serve. The Serbian, however, grabbed the next five points to seal the lead on a sunlit Suzanne Lenglen court.
The 35-year-old Cuevas’s challenge fell away as Djokovic broke his opponent’s serve two times to canter through the second set.
He broke Cuevas early in the third set and barring a moment in the fourth game when he lost his cool at a spectator, who was heckling him during serving, and complained to the umpire, the Serbian was in complete control.
Djokovic sealed the victory on his first matchpoint with his 10th ace to set up a third-round clash against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis, who beat Australian James Duckworth 7-5 2-6 7-6(4) 6-0.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Berhampore, India; editing by Toby Davis)