'Like a snake killing its prey': Djokovic eases through Roland Garros opener

Paris (AFP) –


Novak Djokovic was described as a "snake killing its prey" by vanquished Roland Garros opponent Mikael Ymer on Tuesday as the world number one's bid to become the first man in half a century to win all four Grand Slam titles twice got off to a convincing start.

Djokovic eased to a 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 victory, reaching the second round in Paris for a record-equalling 16th time.

It was also his 32nd win in 33 matches in 2020, his only loss coming when he was defaulted from the US Open.

"It felt like when a snake kills its prey," was the blunt verdict of 23-year-old Ymer who never recovered from dropping the first set in just 20 minutes under the roof of Court Philippe Chatrier.

"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."

Tuesday's demolition was the not the first time Ymer, the world number 80 from Sweden, had faced Djokovic who is chasing a second French Open title and 18th career major.

The two hit together at Wimbledon in 2015 on the morning of the men's final when Djokovic went on to beat Roger Federer for the title and Ymer was readying for the boys championship match which he lost to Reilly Opelka of the United States.

Meanwhile, Djokovic insisted his New York disqualification, handed out when he swiped a ball which felled a line judge, was definitely a thing of the past.

In the immediate aftermath of his US Open retreat, he went to Rome where he captured a record 36th Masters title.

"I have not had any traces of New York in my mind. I'm over it," he said.

However, there was evidence of the old Djokovic feistiness on show Tuesday.

During the third set, he appeared to be heckled by a spectator wearing a Roger Federer hat.

But the world number one, who shot a prolonged angry glare at his tormentor, shrugged off the incident which was hard to ignore at a tournament where only 1,000 fans are allowed on site each day due to coronavirus restrictions.

"No, that's my childhood friend. I sent him a kiss after I won the game. It was very nice to see him," he said.

Top seed Djokovic will meet Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis for a place in the last 32.

Berankis, the world number 66, won his first main draw match at Roland Garros after six losses when he saw off Hugo Dellien of Bolivia 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.