Mikael Ymer: 'When Novak Djokovic is on, it's like when a snake kills its prey'

Tennis - The Swede won five games against world no. 1 on Tuesday in the first round at Roland Garros

by Jovica Ilic
Mikael Ymer: 'When Novak Djokovic is on, it's like when a snake kills its prey'

In 2015, the Swedish junior Mikael Ymer had a chance to hit with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, with both fighting for the titles at the All England Club, although in different age groups. Working hard on his game, the 22-year-old has been ranked inside the top-100 for a year now, having a chance to compete at Majors and chase the place in the top-50.

Five years after that practice session with Novak, Mikael faced world no. 1 in the first round of Roland Garros on Court Philipp-Chatrier on Tuesday. Describing his first experience on the massive court and the rival across the net, Ymer said it was a huge experience.

Novak beat him 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 in an hour and 37 minutes, with the Swede finding his strokes in sets two and three following a terrible opener. Explaining that opening set, Mikael said that Novak Djokovic at his 100% feels like when a snake kills its prey, with nothing you can do to stop him.

Djokovic got broken twice and converted eight opportunities on the return, firing 32 winners and 22 unforced errors to control the pace and race into the next round. Novak was the only player on the court in the first set, taking 24 out of 31 points and delivering a bagel.

The Serb hit ten winners and one unforced error, giving away three points on serve and stealing 12 out of 16 of the return ones to seize all three break chances and race in front. Under a closed roof of Court Philippe-Chatrier, Novak painted a backhand down the line winner to grab a break at 15 in the first game.

World no. 1 then held at 30 to confirm the lead, stealing Mikael's serve for the second time when the Swede sprayed a forehand error in game three. Novak held at love with a forehand down the line winner to extend the lead to 4-0 in swift 14 minutes, landed a return winner for the third break and sealed the opener soon after that following a forced error from the youngster.

Mikael Ymer won five games against Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.

In set number two, Djokovic started to make more mistakes, suffering one break and stealing Mikael's serve thrice in a row for 6-2. Ymer held at 15 in the first game to add his name on the scoreboard, with Novak making the result event at 1-1 with a drop shot winner.

The Serb grabbed a break after a terrible backhand from the Swede at the net, only to get broken at 15 in game four when his drop shot failed to pass the net. Staying composed, Djokovic stole Ymer's serve in game five to grab another advantage, holding at 30 with a backhand winner in the next one despite a beautiful tweener winner from his opponent.

Djokovic forced a mistake from Ymer in game seven to secure a break and move 5-2 up, sealing the set with a volley winner a few minutes later to wrap up two sets in under an hour. Mikael held in the first game of the third set with a service winner, suffering a break at 1-1 thanks to a miserable forehand at the net.

Novak confirmed the advantage with a forehand winner at the net in game four, losing ground a bit at 3-2 when he hit a double fault to hand the break to Mikael, who leveled the score at 3-3. The youngster claimed the previous two games to remain in touch, only to give serve away again in game seven when Djokovic landed a backhand crosscourt winner.

The Serb held at love with a service winner to gain a 5-3 advantage, creating a match point with a forehand winner in the next game and moving over the top with another one to secure the place in round two. "It felt like when a snake kills its prey.

He hits it pretty big. I had chances to rally, but then I got suffocated. It was corner to corner, and he rarely misses. At the beginning, it was just surreal. The court felt big, and I was nervous because I was facing the best on the other side," Mikael Ymer said.

Mikael Ymer Novak Djokovic Roland Garros