Top seed Novak Djokovic and No. 8 Roger Federer continued on their collision course, with both past champions winning their second-round matches on Thursday at the French Open in Paris.
Djokovic, of Serbia, ousted Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, while Federer took out Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
If both Djokovic and the Swiss Federer win in the third and fourth rounds, they would meet next Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
Djokovic, whose lone Grand Slam win on the clay courts of Roland Garros came in 2016, plans to be there.
“I’m playing well, feeling great. I’m ready to go deep in this tournament,” he said. “Hopefully that’s going to be the case. But I’ll take it match by match, and so far the two matches that I have played have been played in a high quality.”
Djokovic used 10 aces, 32 winners and five service breaks to wear down Cuevas. Next up will be Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, who beat Australian James Duckworth 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0. Djokovic is 3-0 all-time against Berankis and knocked him out last year in Paris.
“I’m pleased with the performance (Thursday), particularly against a very good player, a specialist on clay, someone I have never faced before. (He) has got a lot of spin,” Djokovic said of Cuevas.
The win wasn’t quite as easy for Federer, who had to find his groove again after dropping the second set and playing a tense third set.
The 39-year-old Federer, who is seeking his 21st Grand Slam title, broke Cilic’s serve in the fourth game of the fourth set to take a 3-1 lead and cruised to the win from there. In the process, he moved to 10-1 lifetime against Cilic, including wins in the finals of the 2018 Australian Open and 2017 Wimbledon.
In the third round, Federer will meet Dominik Koepfer of Germany, who beat American Taylor Fritz, the No. 30 seed, by a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 margin.
This is just Federer’s third tournament since January 2020 because of a pair of knee surgeries.
“(It was a) very good match for me, I thought,” Federer said. “A bit of up-and-downs in the second and third sets. The good thing, I feel like I come out of a match like this and I know why it was up and down, and then that I was able to attain a solid level once he did break back in the third set and things were looking dangerous for me.
“That I was able to step up a gear, stay with him, and then pull away from him, I think that gives me a lot of confidence.”
No. 14 seed Gael Monfils of France was upset by Swede Mikael Ymer, who won 6-0, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Next up for Ymer is No. 18 Jannik Sinner who topped Gianluca Mager 6-1, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in an all-Italian match.
No. 9 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy breezed past Federico Coria of Argentina 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. Coria’s countryman, No. 10 Diego Schwartzman, defeated Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
Three other seeded players lost Thursday, however.
Italian Marco Cecchinato defeated No. 21 Alex de Minaur of Australia 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1; German Philipp Kohlschreiber took out No. 24 Aslan Karatsev of Russia 6-3, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-1; and Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz Garfia topped No. 28 Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
Other winners Thursday were Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, Italian Lorenzo Musetti and Soon-woo Kwon of South Korea.
–Field Level Media