It was child’s play again for Novak Djokovic on kid’s day at the French Open on Wednesday as the dominant Serb booked a third round slot when Romanian Victor Hanescu retired injured while trailing 6-4 6-1 2-3.
The 24-year-old took his winning streak from the start of the year to 39 but things could be about to get a little more serious for the world number two who faces 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro next.
Third seed Roger Federer and last year’s women’s runner-up Samantha Stosur also found it easy on a hot and sunny day at Roland Garros with wins over France’s Maxime Teixeira and Romanian Simona Halep respectively.
Del Potro, whose injury problems seem to be behind him, moved menacingly through with a straight sets victory over Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic.
Dressed in black, a stark contrast to the white linen dresses and shirts dappling the sunlit stands on court Phillipe Chatrier, Djokovic clinically took Hanescu apart.
The day after world number one Rafael Nadal was forced to come back from the brink in his opening match against John Isner, Djokovic breezed to victory after breaking serve in the 10th game to clinch the opening set.
A series of sometimes gravity-defying shots put him two sets up with barely an hour on the clock and Hanescu, who reached the Nice Open final earlier this month, unexpectedly threw in the towel midway through the third set after massaging his left leg.
“It’s bad luck for him,” a relaxed Djokovic, whose total winning run now stands at 41 when including last year’s Davis Cup final, said at courtside. “But it’s important to spend less time on court in the early rounds.”
Looking ahead to a third round that, a couple of years ago could conceivably have been a Grand Slam final, Djokovic said he expected a tough contest against 25th seed Del Potro who tumbled down the rankings with wrist and hip problems.
“It will be a big challenge for both of us. He deserves to be here,” added Djokovic, who many feel is favourite for the title here after boosting his claycourt credentials with consecutive victories over five-times French Open champion Nadal on the red dirt in Madrid and Rome.
“He has amazing groundstrokes and a big serve.”
While Djokovic and Nadal hogged the limelight, Federer showed he is still a huge threat as he sauntered into the third round by thrashing wildcard Teixeira 6-3 6-0 6-2 in an 84-minute morning workout as dozens of panamas bloomed in the Court Suzanne Lenglen stands.
Swiss Federer, who has not won a Grand Slam title since the 2010 Australian Open, misfired a few forehands in the opening set before he flattened world number 181 Teixeira.
“I’m very happy with these types of matches,” 16-times Grand Slam champion Federer, who faces Serb Janko Tipsarevic, told reporters. “I can practice more and so on, but now I’m really in the tournament.”
Teixeira was not the only player to be given a lesson.
Little known Romanian Halep will not forget her’s from eighth seed Stosur in a hurry.
Stosur looked like she would be handing Halep the dreaded ‘double bagel’ for breakfast but in the end settle for a 6-0 6-2 thrashing in 66 one-sided minutes.
World number one Caroline Wozniacki also reached the third round but was given some anxious moments by Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak who trapped her into a moonballing contest and set up three set points in the second set.
Dane Wozniacki, who has yet to claim a Grand Slam title, survived the test with some powerful forehands and won 6-3 7-6.
The heat and a plucky opponent initially left 17th seed Julia Goerges frazzled as she fell a set and 3-1 behind.
But the in-form German, who won the Stuttgart tournament and reached the last four in Madrid during the past few weeks, relied on her survival instincts to floor Czech Lucie Safarova 2-6 7-5 6-2.
Goerges, however, did not let the win go to her head.
Asked who she would pick as the tournament favourite, she quipped: “For sure not me.”
Other outsiders flew under the radar - and quite fast.
Spain’s David Ferrer, seeded seventh, marched into round three by crushing Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-3 6-4 6-2 and Russian 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, demolished Romania’s Irina Begu 6-1 6-1.
Local favourite Gael Monfils was caught snoozing in the second set but beat fellow Frenchman Guillaume Rufin 6-3 1-6 6-1 6-3 while Richard Gasquet, Djokovic’s possible fourth-round opponent, beat Spaniard Marcel Granollers 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4.
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