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Djokovic gets through dreary day

world's top player has sights set on winning 1st french open prize

Published: Tuesday, May 28 2013 9:00 p.m. MDT

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after beating Belgium's David Goffin.     (Associated Press) Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after beating Belgium's David Goffin. (Associated Press)

PARIS — Novak Djokovic spent the better part of a rainy Tuesday at the French Open wondering when — and even whether — he would wind up playing his first-round match at the only Grand Slam tournament he's yet to win.

Unlike Wimbledon and the Australian Open, Roland Garros does not have a roof at any court.

Unlike the U.S. Open, though, at least there is a definitive timeline to build one.

Djokovic is thrilled about that forthcoming addition in Paris, even if it won't come until 2018. He also can't wait for them to install artificial lights at the French Open, which is supposed to happen sooner. Both of those improvements would have contributed to a more stress-free evening for the man ranked and seeded No. 1, who slipped and slid his way along the red clay to a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-5 victory over David Goffin in the first round.

Spectators sit under an umbrella on center court when Tuesday's French Open matches were delayed by rain.   (Associated Press) Spectators sit under an umbrella on center court when Tuesday's French Open matches were delayed by rain. (Associated Press)

"It was a difficult day, because we have been waiting for hours and hours. I think I warmed up five or six times today," Djokovic said. "In these conditions ... you need to adjust your game and tactics, because it's quite different than comparing to the conditions when it's dry and sunny."

Even though his match against the 58th-ranked Goffin, a Belgian who was one of the revelations at Roland Garros a year ago, was the second to be played on Court Philippe Chatrier, they did not begin until after 6:30 p.m. They finished as light was fading shortly before 9 p.m.

"It was a long day," Djokovic said.

At least he got to play.

Because of showers that began in the morning, there was a delay of more than 21/2 hours at the start. Then, after only 11/2 hours of action, arrived another stop of more than an hour. All told, only 26 of 40 scheduled singles matches were completed, three were suspended in progress, and organizers wound up postponing 11 others entirely. That means players such as Victoria Azarenka, the reigning Australian Open champion, will be slated for first-round action today, the fourth day of the tournament (when, by the way, the forecast calls for more rain).

People stroll with umbrellas in the alleys of the Roland Garros stadium as rain delays the start of matches, Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek) (Associated Press) People stroll with umbrellas in the alleys of the Roland Garros stadium as rain delays the start of matches, Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek) (Associated Press)

That sets up a situation where Azarenka, for example, would need to win seven matches across 11 days to take home the trophy, while 2002 champion Serena Williams — who got to begin the tournament Sunday and is supposed to play in the second round today — would have her seven matches spread over 14 days.

Among the winners Tuesday were 2010 French Open runner-up and 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur, who beat 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan 6-0, 6-2.

Australian Bernard Tomic — whose father was barred from Roland Garros after being accused this month of head-butting Tomic's hitting partner — stopped because of a torn right hamstring while trailing Victor Hanescu 7-5, 7-6 (8), 2-1. Three other men retired during matches: No. 28 Florian Mayer (right thigh), Alejandro Falla (stomach problems), Simone Bolelli (right wrist).

No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka, No. 12 Tommy Haas and No. 16 Philipp Kohlschreiber and No. 26 Grigor Dimitrov advanced, along with 20-year-old American Jack Sock.

Stadium employees clear water from center court as matches were delayed because of the rain for the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Associated Press) Stadium employees clear water from center court as matches were delayed because of the rain for the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Associated Press)

If Dimitrov — he and Maria Sharapova are an item, so he was asked Tuesday about dealing with paparazzi — reaches the third round, he could face Djokovic. That would be an intriguing matchup, given that Dimitrov defeated Djokovic on clay at Madrid three weeks ago.

"This is the kind of matches I'd always want to play in," Dimitrov said. "I feel good on the big courts and playing against good players."

He found Goffin in possession of that same attitude.

In 2012, Goffin got into the French Open field as a "lucky loser" — someone who loses in qualifying but is put in the main draw because another player withdrew — and made it all the way to the fourth round. That's when Goffin got to face Roger Federer, his idol, and even took a set off the owner of the most career major titles before losing the match.

 (Christophe Ena, Associated Press, Michel Spingler, Associated Press) (Christophe Ena, Associated Press, Michel Spingler, Associated Press)

"He has a good chance to have a good future," Djokovic said. "He likes playing here, obviously. He likes playing on a big stage."

Perhaps. But Tuesday's key moment came in the first-set tiebreaker, with Goffin serving at 5-all. After he faulted once, a fan yelled, "Allez, David!" The 22-year-old Goffin then proceeded to miss his second serve, too, for a double-fault that gave Djokovic a set point.

Goffin looked in the direction of the offending shout with palms up, as if to say, "What did you do that for?!"

"That's what happens sometimes. When you play in Davis Cup, you see that on every serve, basically," Goffin said. "Anyway, it was up to me to focus my mind. This is the type of thing that can happen, and can happen to anybody. So tough luck."

Djokovic lost to seven-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal in last year's final, ending Djokovic's 27-match Grand Slam winning streak.

A spectator sits under an umbrella on center court as matches were delayed because of the rain for the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Associated Press) A spectator sits under an umbrella on center court as matches were delayed because of the rain for the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Associated Press)

Now Djokovic really would love to pick up his first trophy at Roland Garros to complete a career Grand Slam.

French Open glance

Men's seeded winners: No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka, No. 12 Tommy Haas, No. 16 Philipp Kohlschreiber, No. 26 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 29 Mikhail Youzhny.

Men's seeded losers: No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov, No. 28 Florian Mayer.

Women's seeded winners: No. 9 Sam Stosur, No. 13 Marion Bartoli, No. 16 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 18 Jelena Jankovic, No. 27 Yaroslava Shvedova, No. 31 Alize Cornet.

Women's seeded losers: None.

Stat of the day: 26-13 — Edge in winners compiled by 20-year-old American qualifier Jack Sock during his 6-2, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.

On Court today: No. 2 Roger Federer vs. Somdev Devvarman; No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Jarkko Nieminen; No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic vs. Nicolas Mahut; No. 1 Serena Williams vs. Caroline Garcia; No. 3 Victoria Azarenka vs. Elena Vesnina; No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Mallory Burdette; No. 5 Sara Errani vs. Yulia Putintseva; No. 7 Petra Kvitova vs. Aravane Rezai.PARIS — American Jack Sock made a successful French Open debut Tuesday while wearing initials on his shoes in honor of two friends whom he said died recently in separate accidents.

Sock, a 20-year-old from Lincoln, Neb., beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-2, 7-5. He said one of the accident victims was a high school teammate, and the other was a friend he played with in juniors tournaments.

Ranked 118th, Sock reached the main draw by winning three matches in qualifying. He has an unimpressive record on the green clay common in the United States but said Europe's red clay is different, and he likes it better.

Sock, who next plays No. 12-seeded Tommy Haas, made his first Grand Slam splash last August at the U.S. Open, where he won two matches.

— Associated PressAmerican wins French Open debut

PARIS — American Jack Sock made a successful French Open debut Tuesday while wearing initials on his shoes in honor of two friends whom he said died recently in separate accidents.

Sock, a 20-year-old from Lincoln, Neb., beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-2, 7-5. He said one of the accident victims was a high school teammate, and the other was a friend he played with in juniors tournaments.

Ranked 118th, Sock reached the main draw by winning three matches in qualifying.

— Associated Press

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