Djokovic makes winning French Open start on Agassi's watch

Solenn Plantier
Mai 30, 2017

The Spaniard, seeded fourth, will play his opening match in Paris on Court Suzanne Lenglen, and not the main Philippe Chatrier showcourt where he lifted the Musketeers Cup for the ninth time in 2014.

The Spaniard was defeated by Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final in 2015 and an injury-enforced he pulled out before the third round a year ago. Nadal is entering the tournament in great form, having won his first three clay tournaments before losing in Rome to the red hot Dominic Thiem, resulting in a current 2017 clay court record of 17-1. Rafa will now face Robin Haase in the second round.

However, Federer, at 35, is skipping the French Open to save himself for an assault on an eighth Wimbledon. Fognini on the other hand, has produced several promising performances this year - among them wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Kei Nishikori, and World No.1 Andy Murray.

However, Nadal is desperate to keep a lid on expectations.

Nadal had to play second fiddle to his old rival Roger Federer at the Australian Open and on the United States hard courts but the switch to European clay has seen the Spaniard dominate like the old days.

Djokovic (with Agassi) begins his title defense Monday against Marcel Granollers. But I played the best player on clay three times in three tournaments.

Both before the match and in courtside comments following his win, Nadal described Paire as a risky opponent, and the Frenchman played with more freedom in a closer second set as the Spaniard lost his edge.

Nadal will kick off his campaign against local favorite Benoit Paire, and is likely to face fifth-seeded Milos Raonic in the quarter-final if everything goes well in his way.

"It's incredible to have Agassi in my team, every day is special with him, everyday I'm learning something new", said Djokovic, who split with long-time coach Marian Vajda at the start of the month.

He can become the first man in the Open era - and only the third in history - to win each of the Grand Slams twice. "Then he has to leave because he has some things that he can not reschedule".

Agassi has been tempted into coaching for the first time by the defending French Open champion but must leave Paris well before the tournament finishes.

Djokovic's first match with Andre Agassi as coach could hardly have gone better, although he confirmed later it would be a short first stint.

Murray, defeated by Djokovic in the 2016 final, has endured a wretched season with an elbow injury and bouts of illness not helping. His last few tournaments he lost in the Second round of the Italian Open, the third round of the Madrid Open, the Semi Final of Barcelona and the Third round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

"I need to accept that I'm struggling and then find a way to get through it. He's an uncomfortable opponent that already he had some good victories this year", added Nadal.

Thiem first broke into the top 10 after reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros 12 months ago and has stayed there ever since, climbing to seventh on the back of a fine clay season. And then Murray, you never know.

Jack Sock has fallen at the first hurdle at the French Open against a player he beat two weeks ago in Rome.

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