Novak Djokovic kicks off Roland Garros title defense

Novak Djokovic ousted Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Court Philippe-Chatrier

by Jovica Ilic
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Novak Djokovic kicks off Roland Garros title defense
© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic is off to a winning start in Paris, beating Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 7-6, 6-4 on Court Philippe-Chatrier in two hours and 31 minutes. The defending champion claimed his 93rd Roland Garros victory, hoping for a good run after a slow start to the season for his standards.

The Serb lost serve only once and delivered three breaks, doing enough to seal the deal in straight sets. Novak served well in the opening set, dropping three points in his games and mounting the pressure on the other side.

Pierre-Hugues suffered an early break and fought well after that, building a foundation for a tight battle in the second set. The Frenchman held at love in the first game of the encounter, and the Serb mirrored that in the next one for 1-1.

Novak Djokovic, Roland Garros 2024© Tim Goode / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Djokovic placed a running forehand crosscourt winner at the net in the third game, creating three break points. World no. 1 seized the second with a forehand down the line winner and fired a service winner in the next one for a hold at love and a 3-1 advantage after a swift 12 minutes.

Herbert grabbed the fifth game with a powerful serve, remaining within one break deficit before Djokovic painted a forehand winner a few minutes later for another fine hold and 4-2. The Serb clinched the eighth game at love with an unreturned serve and served for the opener at 5-4.

Novak generated two set points with a strong serve and converted the first after Pierre-Hugues' forehand mistake, wrapping up the opener 6-4 in 37 minutes.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic is off to a winning start at Roland Garros.

Djokovic made Herbert run around the baseline and secured a break in the first game of the second set after forcing the rival's mistake. The home player bounced back in the second game, earning his first break points and pulling the break back after Novak's careless forehand.

Herbert squandered two game points in the third game and faced a break point, saving it after Djokovic's loose backhand and holding for 2-1. There were no chances for the returners in the upcoming four games, with Pierre-Hugues producing a hold at love with a service winner in the seventh for a 4-3 advantage.

Novak closed the eighth game after a deuce and delivered holds at love while serving to stay in the set in games ten and 12, introducing a tie break.

Novak Djokovic, Roland Garros 2024© Tim Goode / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak earned a mini-break in the first point and won two points on serve for a 3-0 advantage after a volley winner.

The Serb secured another mini-break with a forced error in the fifth point and generated four set points after the Frenchman's forehand error. Djokovic caused Herbert's mistake on the second, moving two sets to love in front after an hour and 45 minutes and closer to the finish line.

With a boost by his side, Novak clinched two holds at love at the beginning of the third set and made a push on the return at 2-1. Pierre-Hugues saved two break points with powerful serves, getting out of jail and landing a catchy drop shot winner for a hold and 2-2.

Djokovic faced no issues behind the initial shot, providing one good hold after another and forging a 5-4 lead with a service winner in game nine. Herbert served to stay in the match in game ten, and Djokovic extended it after landing a forehand winner. Novak created a match point with a backhand down the line winner and sealed the deal after Pierre-Hugues' double fault.

Novak Djokovic Roland Garros Pierre-Hugues Herbert
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