Roger Federer says he may withdraw from the French Open as he assesses the physical impact of his epic third round win over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Koepfer in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery, lasting three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times in the contest, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing close to 1am.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and conceded the physical toll the match took would make him assess his continuation at Roland Garros.

"We go through these matches, we analyse them highly and look on what's next and will do the same tonight and tomorrow, because I need to decide if I keep on playing or not or is it not too much risk at this moment to keep on pushing, or is this just a perfect way to just take a rest," Federer said at his post-match news conference.

"Because I don't have the week in between here and Halle like normal to see what's best now, if you count back from Wimbledon and so forth.

"It's just a lot going on, but having a match like this, knowing I could have probably played a fifth set but not knowing how I will wake up tomorrow is interesting, to say the least."

He added: "Every match here or Geneva, I have to reassess the situation after the match and see in the morning how I wake up and how the knee feels.

"From that stand point for me, it always goes like that… maybe even more so after a match like this that has been long. Like I explained before, I've not been two-three-and-a-half hour battles in practice either."

Federer's third round win sees him move into the last-16 where he is scheduled to play ninth seed Matteo Berrettini on Monday.

Roger Federer has outlasted Dominik Koepfer late into the Paris night in front of empty stands to book his spot in the last 16 of the French Open.

The 20-time grand slam winner survived in three hours and 35 minutes to win 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5, finishing eerily at almost 1am with no crowd after Paris' 9pm curfew forced them home hours earlier.

The 39-year-old was challenged but found a way and will next face ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in the fourth round, having secured victory in his longest match in 18 months since returning from two knee surgeries.

Koepfer dug in to hold in consecutive early service games, cheering in relief as Federer sent a backhand wide at the end of a near eight-minute back and forth.

The pressure applied by the Swiss great could not avoid a first-set tie-break, yet he never trailed and was able to take the opener following an untimely Koepfer double-fault.

The start to the second was sloppy, with Koepfer broken quickly after battling through a 29-shot rally, before three straight breaks of serve – two to love, the latter sealed with a gorgeous Koepfer return – brought him back on terms to tee up another breaker.

This time, Federer was on the back foot from the outset and fell into a hole from which he could not recover, his latest tired backhand prompting a roar from Koepfer as he levelled the match.

Koepfer had Federer in serious trouble when he broke at the start of the third set, the Swiss star leaving a lobbed return that landed on the line.

The veteran worked his way back, though, and got the contest back on serve at 4-4, even going on to have a set-point opportunity on the German's serve before the match moved into another tie-break.

Just when it looked like Federer was losing control of the breaker after firing a forehand wide, the eighth seed reeled off three consecutive points, a spell that included a thumping forehand winner, to move within a set of victory.

Koepfer was visibly frustrated when he fired a backhand wide in game three of the fourth set, which allowed his opponent - who now had all the momentum - to move ahead with a break.

But nothing was proving simple for either player, as an error-strewn service game from Federer allowed Koepfer to level the fourth set at 2-2.

With the clock well past midnight, Federer dug deep in the fourth set, breaking once more in the 11th game and sealing his spot in the fourth round when the second of three match points on serve saw Koepfer find the net.

Data Slam: A rare first for Federer

With 103 career titles and 20 majors to his name, there are not many firsts for Federer on the ATP Tour these days. However, this match produced one for the man who turns 40 this year.

This was the first time in 424 grand slam contests Federer had played a tie-break in each of the first three sets of a match. And there was almost a fourth straight breaker until he claimed that crucial late strike on the serve of Koepfer.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Koepfer – 55/40
Federer – 51/63

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Koepfer – 11/4
Federer – 6/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Koepfer – 4/6
Federer – 5/14

Rafael Nadal set another French Open record and hit one more grand slam milestone with victory on Saturday, while world number one Novak Djokovic also progressed at Roland Garros.

Nadal, a 13-time French Open champion, reached the last 16 of the tournament for a record 16th time by beating Cameron Norrie 6-3 6-3 6-3.

It marks the 50th time Nadal has made it through to the fourth round of a grand slam in his outstanding career. Djokovic is second on the all-time list with 54 appearances in the last 16 of a major – behind only Roger Federer - after he saw off Ricardas Berankis 6-1 6-4 6-1 in just 92 minutes.

While Nadal is set for a repeat of last year's quarter-final against Jannik Sinner, top seed Djokovic will be taking on another promising youngster in the form of Lorenzo Musetti.

DJOKOVIC THRILLED WITH HAMILTON COMPARISON

Djokovic is yet to drop a set at Roland Garros in 2021, with last year's beaten finalist – who is well on course to meet up with his old foe Nadal in the last four this time around – looking every bit worthy of his status as top seed.

His dominant display against Berankis drew comparisons, from one commentator at least, to Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.

"It's like the dominance of Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team. Berankis is a great driver, he maximises everything under the hood. But Novak Djokovic is driving a completely different race car," said former French Open champion Jim Courier.

"Berankis can't do the same things. On the same track, he can't race the same. Novak can drive how he wants."

It was a comparison which delighted Djokovic.

"Well, I'm honoured to be compared to Lewis. I respect Lewis and everything he does in his career, but also, off the track with his activism," said the 34-year-old, who is hunting a 19th major win. "Something that truly inspires me and a lot of athletes.

"I don't want to talk about my driving next to Lewis' name. Honestly, it's embarrassing to speak about my driving, and in the same sentence with Hamilton! But the analogy and the comparison of my game with an F1 car, it's definitely something that pleases me."

NADAL ENJOYING ROLAND GARROS BACKING

Given his sensational achievements in Paris down the years, it is no surprise that Nadal feels right at home whenever he returns to Roland Garros.

There were, of course, no fans allowed into the stands last year, but a limited number of spectators, including his family, are on hand to cheer him on once more this time.

"It is true that for the last year and a half it has been difficult for every player, although I didn't play so much," Nadal said.

"Those who have been travelling week after week without the chance to have family and a full team with them is very tough. They have been challenging conditions.

"For me it is very important to have the team and family behind me, because of them I am what I am today. I'm happy to have crowds, that is so important for us."

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

Though the era of dominance enjoyed by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic is only just starting to show signs of slowing down – albeit they still monopolise the grand slams – round four is going to throw up two fascinating contests.

Sinner came up against Nadal in the 2020 quarter-finals, and the Italian will be looking to cause an almighty upset this time around after overcoming Mikael Ymer.

Joining Sinner in the last 16 is his compatriot and fellow teenager Musetti, who has the small task of taking on the world's best player following a hard-fought victory over Marco Cecchinato.

It is the first time two teenagers have reached the fourth round at Roland Garros since Djokovic and Gael Monfils did so in 2006.

Rafael Nadal eased into the second week of the French Open with a 6-3 6-3 6-3 triumph over Cameron Norrie during Saturday's play at Roland Garros.

The defending champion is still yet to drop a set while sailing through to the last 16, where he will take on Jannik Sinner in a repeat of last year's quarter-final clash between the pair.

Nadal was not at his absolute peak against Norrie – he committed 29 unforced errors and had problems holding his serve in the second set, though the Spaniard still produced when it mattered to beat the Briton comfortably enough.

A solitary break was enough to take the opening set, but the third seed was made to work hard in the next – at one stage even finding himself 3-1 down.

After a backhand winner put him up 40-30 in the fourth game, Norrie flashed a fabulous forehand past his opponent to register a second successive break. Crucially, though, he could not consolidate on each occasion.

Indeed, Nadal claimed the next five games as he seized control in imperious fashion, wrapping up the second set after 42 minutes courtesy of a stunning passing shot that was followed by a roar of approval towards his watching team.

With his forehand now in full flow, Nadal motored towards the finishing line in the third and final set.

A break in the fourth game edged him in front and while unable to seal the result at the first attempt when having a match point on his opponent's serve, the king of clay fashioned yet another straight-sets win in the French capital.

Norrie made him work to the very end, at one point sitting at 30-30 in the ninth game, but the relentless pursuit of a record-extending 14th French title continues for Nadal.


Data Slam: Rafa adds another win to the collection

Nadal is now 103-2 for his career at the French Open and is unbeaten in his previous 33 outings at the event. Such is his dominance, the left-hander has secured 32 sets in a row since he lost the second in the 2019 final against Dominic Thiem. 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Nadal – 35/29
Norrie – 15/21

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Nadal – 3/2
Norrie – 2/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Nadal – 6/12
Norrie – 2/3

The weather could not dampen the spirits of Daniil Medvedev as he reached the fourth round of the French Open for the first time on Friday.

The Russian was in good form as he beat Reilly Opelka 6-4 6-2 6-4 amid rainy conditions in the French capital.

The second seed, who will meet clay-court specialist Cristian Garin next, hit 28 winners to 16 unforced errors in a dominant display on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

It was a display to instil some confidence into Medvedev as he chases the world number-one spot, which he will claim if he reaches the final and Novak Djokovic does not.

"Clay at Roland Garros feels great this year," he said. "As I said after the first round [against Alexander Bublik], now I know that to beat me, the guys have to play well. I am definitely happy with my game and my return today, because I actually hit more aces than him. That's a great achievement.

"I think a little bit [the] rainy conditions, wet, heavy court – which I totally hate on clay – helped me today. In these conditions, even guessing one side, I could still get back to another side if I saw the serve coming the other way."

ZVEREV DIGS DEEP TO PROGRESS

Alexander Zverev joined Medvedev in the last 16, the sixth seed saving three set points in the second set against Laslo Djere before taking nine of the next 11 games to ease to a 6-2 7-5 6-2 win.

"I was down 3-5, 40-0 on his serve and you don't always come back from that score," said Zverev, who will now meet three-time quarter-finalist Kei Nishikori. "He played a fantastic match, he is playing great on this surface so I knew I had to play much, much better than the first two rounds and I did that today."

Twelfth seed Pablo Carreno Busta was also a straight-sets winner, seeing off Steve Johnson to set up a meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas, who survived a stern examination by John Isner.

Having lost the first set to the big-serving American, Tsitsipas recovered to win 5-7 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 at close to midnight local time to extend his winning streak on clay to seven matches.

FOGNINI STUNNED, FOKI EDGES FIVE-SET EPIC

Federico Delbonis stunned 27th seed Fabio Fognini 6-4 6-1 6-3. He will take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who came through a brutal five-set contest with Casper Ruud that lasted more than four and a half hours.

"I think this match represents Roland Garros," said the man known as 'Foki' to his fans. "This match was very tough. He played unbelievable.

"In the fifth set, we were in [a] battle every game. Every game we wanted to win [and] to break the serve of the other guy. It was, with all [the] emotions inside [and] with all the crowd singing your name, unbelievable!"

Roger Federer took "a lot of confidence" from his four-set win over Marin Cilic as he produced his best display of the year at the French Open.

The 39-year-old beat the 2014 US Open champion 6-2 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Thursday, building on his first-round defeat of Denis Istomin with an impressive performance.

Federer looked in command in the first set but lost rhythm in the second amid sharpened play from Cilic and a strange confrontation with the umpire after a time violation warning while receiving serve.

The match was on a knife-edge heading into the third-set tie-break, but Federer was clinical when it mattered, serving out the set with an ace before assuming control again in the fourth.

"[It was a] very good match for me, I thought," said Federer, who will face Dominik Koepfer in round three. "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."

DJOKOVIC AND NADAL IN CRUISE CONTROL

World number one Novak Djokovic is another who is finding his feet on the Paris dirt, the 2016 champion beating clay specialist Pablo Cuevas 6-3 6-2 6-4.

Djokovic, who will face Ricardas Berankis next after his win over James Duckworth, struck 31 winners as he moved to 22-3 for the year with his 350th grand slam match win.

"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."

Defending champion Rafael Nadal was in imperious form in the late match, dispatching Richard Gasquet 6-0 7-5 6-2.

Nadal, who turned 35 on Thursday, won the opening seven games in under half an hour in a largely one-sided contest as he improved to 17-0 against the Frenchman, the most one-sided head-to-head of his career.

The Spaniard, who has not even dropped a set to Gasquet since 2008, said of winning once again in three: "I honestly don't complain at all! The main thing for me is to feel myself play well.

"In theory, it's better to save some energy, but at the same time, sometimes when you are pushed at the beginning of a tournament, you went through some tough moments, that helps a lot for the next rounds.

"It happened for me in Rome like this. I had some tough challenges at the beginning of the tournament, and then you get to the quarters, semis and final and you know you're going to suffer and you're more ready for the situation."

MONFLIS OUT, KWON EYEING SLICE OF HISTORY

Cameron Norrie continued the British interest in the French capital, recovering from a set down to defeat Lloyd Harris and reach round three for the first time, and will face Nadal next.

In a mixed day for the seeded players, Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini advanced in straight sets while Jannik Sinner beat compatriot Gianluca Mager 6-1 7-5 3-6 6-3.

However, Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev was beaten in four sets by veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber, while 21st seed Alex De Minaur lost in four sets to Marco Cecchinato.

There was also disappointment for home favourite Gael Monfils. The 14th seed was beaten 6-0 2-6 6-4 6-3 by Mikael Ymer, the world number 105.

However, Thursday saw a moment to remember for Kwon Soon-woo, who reached round three of a major for the first time with a straight-sets victory over Andreas Seppi. He is bidding to become the first South Korean player to get to round four at Roland Garros.

There were impressive wins as well for teenagers Lorenzo Musetti and Carlos Alcaraz Garfica, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight sets to secure a meeting with Jan-Lennard Struff.

Rafael Nadal stormed into the third round of the French Open with a straight-sets defeat of Richard Gasquet under the floodlights in Paris.

Gasquet, the final French player in either the men's or women's draws, offered some resistance after a terrible start but succumbed 6-0 7-5 6-2 in two hours and 14 minutes.

Nadal has now beaten Gasquet in all 17 of their meetings on Tour, with the Frenchman falling to a Spaniard for the second tournament running, having lost 6-1 6-1 to Jaume Munar in Parma last month.

The 20-time major singles champion turned 35 on Thursday and seemed eager to go and enjoy what remained of his birthday as he reeled off the first seven games in a row inside half an hour.

Gasquet at last got on the board after a couple of strangely errant forehands from the defending champion, who broke Gasquet again at the third time of asking as he moved 4-1 ahead in the second set.

Gasquet might have dropped to 53 in the rankings, but he offered glimpses of the form that saw him climb as high as seven in the world back in 2008, the one-handed backhand and drop-shot game causing Nadal some problems.

There was a shock when he broke back at 4-5 behind in the second set as Nadal looped another forehand long, but Nadal piled on the pressure at 6-5 and took a 2-0 lead when Gasquet slapped a forehand into the bottom of the net.

A sublime volley and a rasping passing shot saw Gasquet fend off two more break points at 1-2 in the third, but his resistance was finally broken in a mammoth sixth game.

Gasquet's serve deserted him at the wrong moment as he handed Nadal two match points, the second of which was taken via another forehand into the net.

Data Slam: Nadal keeps Gasquet at arm's length

Nadal dropped just seven of 45 points behind his first serve, which averaged speeds of 180km/h, leaving Gasquet with few opportunities to knock the Spaniard off his game.

Such authority meant Gasquet had little chance of snapping his losing streak against Nadal, whose 17 wins from 17 meetings is a career record.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 36/23
Gasquet – 20/37

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 3/3
Gasquet – 2/5

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 7/16
Gasquet – 1/4

Roger Federer produced his best display of the year to defeat Marin Cilic in four sets in the second round of the French Open.

The 20-time grand slam singles champion overcame frustrations with the umpire and the powerful resilience of his opponent to win 6-2 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Thursday.

The Swiss great holds an 11-1 lead in their head-to-head record, that one defeat coming back in the US Open semi-finals in 2014 when Cilic went on to lift the trophy, and it seemed as though Federer had their latest contest on his racquet early on.

He raced into a 5-1 lead in the first set before closing it out in just 31 minutes, the crowd left stunned when the eighth seed stretched up to produce a remarkable drop-shot return winner.

Matters became trickier in the second set as Cilic went 3-0 ahead and only some precise serve-and-forehand work from Federer prevented the double break.

A curious moment occurred with Cilic leading 3-1 when Federer was issued a time violation when receiving serve at deuce. A bemused Federer spoke at length with the umpire before calling to Cilic, "Am I playing too slow?".

Although far from descending into a shouting match, the incident seemed to throw off Federer, who gifted the set to Cilic with two forehand errors and looked unsettled until he refocused with a ripped backhand winner in the opening game of the third.

Cilic forced the tie-break after Federer had spurned an easy chance for a double break, but a double fault from the world number 47 handed the initiative to his rival, who by this time looked imperious on serve and in control from the baseline.

An ace on his first set point wrapped up the breaker and another Cilic double fault saw him fall a break behind in the fourth. This time, Federer did not allow a sniff of a comeback.

Data Slam: Federer back in the groove with clinical display

More accustomed to facing Cilic in the later stages of majors – he has beaten the Croatian in Wimbledon and Australian Open finals – Federer nonetheless needed to find something close to his best tennis after allowing early control to slip away in only his fourth match since returning after knee surgery.

The 39-year-old fired down 16 aces to one double fault and 47 winners to just 27 unforced errors. As Cilic said before the contest: "No matter the age, Roger has the formula."

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Cilic – 43/44
Federer – 47/27

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Cilic – 12/6
Federer – 16/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Cilic – 3/8
Federer – 5/16

Novak Djokovic booked a place in the last 32 of the French Open with a straight-sets victory over Uruguayan veteran Pablo Cuevas.

The top seed, seeking just a second triumph at Roland Garros, followed up his emphatic win against Tennys Sandgren in round one with a slightly tougher 6-3 6-2 6-4 triumph against Cuevas.

World number one Djokovic had 31 winners to 22 unforced errors and will now face James Duckworth – who beat Ricardas Berankis earlier on Thursday – in the next round.

Djokovic initially took some time to get going and lost his serve in just the third game, before instantly hitting back in the fourth.

The 18-time grand slam winner did not look back from that point, serving up some impressive tennis on the clay and breaking Cuevas again in the eighth game to take a one-set lead.

Cuevas has reached the third round in Paris on four occasions, but hopes of doing so again this year were effectively put to bed in a blistering second set from Djokovic, who was successful with all 11 of his first serves to close in on victory.

Playing on Court Suzanne-Lenglen did not faze Djokovic – with Roger Federer taking prime position on Court Philippe-Chatrier – as he held throughout a gruelling third set and completed the job with a 10th ace of an entertaining contest.

Data Slam: Another milestone reached for Djokovic

Thursday's match was Djokovic's 350th at a grand slam and he looked very impressive pretty much from the moment he recovered from his early wobble. Cuevas also played well, but his opponent saved eight of the nine break points he faced to set up a meeting with Berankis.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 23/22
Cuevas – 31/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 10/3
Cuevas – 5/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 5/8
Cuevas – 1/9

Stefanos Tsitsipas has been delighted with the backing he has received at the French Open as he continues his quest to better last year's semi-final run.

The 22-year-old has previously spoke of his fondness for Roland Garros, and he earned a tour-leading 35th win of the season against Pedro Martinez on Wednesday.

It finished 6-3 6-4 6-3 in the second round in favour of the fifth seed, who is yet to lose a set at this year's second grand slam.

Tsitsipas is leading the FedEX ATP Race to Turin, and John Isner stands in his way of a fourth-round place.

"I really like playing in Paris," said Tsitsipas, who won titles in Monte Carlo and Lyon before heading to Roland Garros.

"I feel like the fans have embraced me and made me one of them. So, I'm really glad my tennis is there, my performance is there, and I'm able to deliver not just good tennis but also create a good atmosphere on this court."

Tsitsipas, who at one point dropped his racket while serving, did have to work for his win, though. Martinez broke him in the first and second sets, and the Greek was then denied the opportunity to serve out the win in the third.

Martinez's stand did not last much longer – Tsitsipas' backhand winner in the following game sealing the win.

"I've had good weeks this year, I've had some good results, but, of course, I feel like there's always better," the world number five added.

"I don't see my performance so far as super-excellent and outstanding, but I've been consistent and that's very important."

MEDVEDEV BITES BACK

Daniil Medvedev might finally have settled into life at Roland Garros. The second seed had a dismal record in the French Open heading into this year's grand slam, but despite a shaky start on Wednesday, he defeated Tommy Paul 3-6 6-1 6-4 6-3 to claim a place in round three.

Though Paul made the most of a shaky opening set from Medvedev, the Russian rallied in set two and kept the momentum going, winning 80 per cent of his first-serve points in a victory which took two hours and 18 minutes to round off, and also included eight breaks of serve from the world number two.

Next up is Reilly Opelka, who saw off Jaume Munar. The American has a losing 2-1 head-to-head record against Medvedev, though this is the first time they will meet on clay.

There was a shock elsewhere, as 11th seed Roberto Bautista Agut was dumped out by Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen.

ZVEREV GETS SNAPPY AFTER RAGGED DISPLAY

World number six Alexander Zverev was made to work for his place in round three, as he overcame Roman Safiullin 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 7-6 (7-1).

Zverev trailed in both the second and third sets, as the 24-year-old needed two tie-breaks to beat the qualifier.

"Obviously, I don't do it on purpose," Zverev said. "I don't go into the match and say, 'Okay, my tactic is I'm going to be a break down, I'm going to fight back and come back'.

"That's not how it works. I'm a break down most of the time because I play unfocused games or the opponent plays well."

Zverev will play Laslo Djere in round three, and despite his frustration after the match, the German has moved onto 20 wins for the season, which already includes titles in Acapulco and Madrid.

Djere beat fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, and if Zverev should keep winning, he may well face a quarter-final against Casper Ruud, the promising Norwegian player who beat Kamil Majchrzak 6-3 6-2 6-4 to make it to the third round at Roland Garros for a third straight season.

Standing in the way of Ruud and the last eight is Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who went the distance to defeat Botic Van De Zandschulp.

Men's top seed Novak Djokovic says he empathizes with Naomi Osaka having been on the wrong side of the media in the past following her withdrawal from the 2021 French Open.

Four-time grand slam winner Osaka pulled out of Roland Garros on Monday, a day after tournament organisers said her continued refusal to attend compulsory news conferences could result in her being expelled from the Open.

Osaka had come out publicly prior to the French Open and announced she would not attend the news conferences after matches at Roland Garros, citing mental health reasons.

After winning in the first round, Osaka opted out and explained her decision in a social media statement where she said has had bouts of depression since winning the US Open in 2018 and never intended for her stance to become a distraction.

Djokovic, who came under fire last year for his role in the Adria Tour and his US Open default, was asked about Osaka's situation at his post-match news conferences after his straight sets win over Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday.

"Naomi is very young… I can understand her very well. I can empathise because I was on the wrong edge of the sword in my career many times with media," Djokovic said.

"I know how it feels. I support her. I think she was very brave to do that.

"I'm really sorry that she's going through painful times and suffering mentally. I wish her all the best.

"She's a very important player, brand and person for our sport. We need to have her back.

"This was a very bold decision from her side but she knows how she feels best. If she needs to take time and reflect and recharge, that's what she needed to do. I respect it fully. I hope she'll come back stronger."

Djokovic, who was 18 major titles to his name, added that he understood the stance of the French Open and other Grand Slams who have insisted on news conferences being mandatory after every match.

"The grand slams are protecting themselves and their own business," he said. "Of course, they're going to follow the rules and make sure you are complying otherwise you'll be paying fines and getting sanctioning.

"It's not surprising to me that that was their reaction. We're used to this environment and the principles of us doing interviews after every match and getting to answer questions that are majorly quite similar.

"But it's part of our sport and what we do. The media is important without a doubt. It's allowing us to have the platform to communicate with our fans but in a more traditional way.

"It used to be the only way how we could reach out to our fans. In the last five to 10 years it's not the case anymore. We have our own platforms and social media accounts."

Djokovic won 6-2 6-4 6-2 over Sandgren, compiling 33 winners to extend his outstanding French Open first round record to 17-0.

"I thought I played really well, moved very well," he said. "From the later stages of the Rome tournament until now, I'm finding my groove on the court, striking the ball well."

Novak Djokovic eased into the second round of the French Open thanks to a straight-sets win over Tennys Sandgren in the final match at Roland Garros on Tuesday.

The top seed – beaten by Rafael Nadal, who is in the same half of the draw, in the Paris final last year – had won his previous 16 first-round contests at the French Open, and there never appeared to be any danger of him failing to extend that record on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Indeed, this meeting lasted under two hours, with the world number one cruising through 6-2 6-4 6-2 without conceding serve and while hitting 33 winners in the process.

It also brought up his fourth career win over Sandgren, maintaining a 100 per cent record over the world number 66. Pablo Cuevas awaits in round two.

Sandgren was a break down in a hurry as Djokovic breezed through the first set in just 31 minutes.

The 34-year-old – a five-time Roland Garros finalist who claimed his solitary title at the event in 2016 – grew frustrated in the second set as he made nine unforced errors and offered up six break points, yet he saved them all.

It evidently demoralised Sandgren, who had put everything into trying to draw level, and the American swiftly found himself 4-1 and two breaks down in the final set, with Djokovic moving through the gears.

A sloppy shot into the net cost Djokovic his first match-point opportunity at 5-2 up, yet he made no mistake as he served out for the win – Sandgren's overhit cross-court forehand rounding off a one-sided contest.

Data Slam: Super Djokovic serves up a treat

Eighteen-time grand slam champion Djokovic may not have needed to live up to his own lofty standards, but his service game was typically excellent in the evening session. He landed 49 of 73 first serves, helping him to win 86 per cent of his first-serve points (42/49). 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 33/21
Sandgren – 25/27

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 4/2
Sandgren – 5/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 5/11
Sandgren – 0/6

Rafael Nadal has tipped Alexei Popyrin for greatness after being tested by the youngster in the opening match of his latest French Open title defence.

World number three Nadal saved two set points in the third set on his way to a well-earned 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-3) victory in Tuesday's contest at Roland Garros.

It means that only three players have taken a set from the Spaniard at the grand slam event since 2016 – Diego Schwartzman, David Goffin and Dominic Thiem.

Nadal's victory over Popyrin was his 31st in a row in Paris since 2015 and keeps him on course for a record-extending 14th triumph in the French capital.

The third seed was impressed by what he saw from his 21-year-old opponent, who showed admirable resistance by saving four break points to force a tie-break in the third set.

"With this serve, with these kinds of shots from the baseline, he has everything to become a top player," Nadal said. "If he wants to do it, of course he is going to have his chances, because he has a lot of very difficult things in his game.

"He has everything to become a great, or at least a fantastic player. Let's see. Let's see what is going on in the next couple of months and years."

Asked about his impressive record of rarely dropping a set, Nadal said: "We are playing best-of-five. The other player needs to win two more sets to beat you.

"I know I'm going to be there fighting for every single point. Of course I don't want to lose the set at all, but that's part of the game.

"I'm happy to win that third set. I don't know how I won it, but I did, and I'm glad."

RUBLEV BEATEN BY BIG-SERVING STRUFF

Nadal's path to another French Open title is a little clearer following seventh seed Andrey Rublev's surprise first-round exit to world number 42 Jan-Lennard Struff.

Rublev had reached the quarter-final stage at his previous three majors and was much fancied to go far in Paris, but he fell 6-3 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 3-6 6-4 to the big-serving Struff.

The German hit 25 aces on his way to beating a top-10 opponent at a grand slam for the first time, setting up a second-round meeting with Facundo Bagnis.

"I was feeling fine," Rublev said after the defeat. "I practiced well. I don't know why I lost. I think we played a good level today. I played a solid two sets, third and fourth, and then the fifth set.

"I think I should have won the second set, but this is tennis. I was serving for the set and I didn't make it, then in the tie-break I was a bit unlucky and he played well."

MONFILS ENDS SLAM DROUGHT

Fan favourite Gael Monfils battled back from a set down to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-4 and earn his first grand slam win since the 2020 Australian Open.

Monfils has struggled since tennis resumed last year after the coronavirus-enforced break, with Tuesday's win on home soil just his second this season.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev kicked off his French Open campaign with victory over Jenson Brooksby in three sets.

Tenth seed Schwartzman, who reached the last four in Paris last year, saw off Lu Yen-hsun 6-2 6-2 6-3 in his opening match.

Matteo Berrettini was made to work a little harder for his victory against Taro Daniel, the ninth seed advancing through 6-0 6-4 4-6 6-4.

There was an upset later in the day, though, as number 20 seed Felix Auger Aliassime was beaten in four sets by world number 98 Andreas Seppi.

Rafael Nadal started his quest for a 14th French Open title with a straight-sets defeat of Alexei Popyrin on Tuesday.

The defending champion will face Richard Gasquet in the second round after a 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-3) victory over powerful Australian Popyrin on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Nadal, eyeing a record 21st grand slam title, saved two set points in the third set as Popyrin gave a demonstration of his promise, but the world number three finished off the job in in two hours and 23 minutes on a glorious day in Paris.

Popyrin held to love in his first service game and matched Nadal in the first set before he ballooned a forehand long and wide to go 5-3 down.

Nadal served out the set in typically composed fashion and maintained his momentum in the second, charging into a 4-0 lead.

The third seed lost only three points behind his first serve in the second set, saving the only break point he faced as Popyrin was unable to live with his power and precision.

Popyrin would not go down without a fight, though, and although Nadal levelled at 2-2 after fending off a break point, he was unable to deny the world number 63 a first break for a 4-2 lead.

The 21-year-old failed to win two set points when he tried to serve it out at 5-4 up as Nadal got himself out of trouble and went on to dominate the tie-break, ending the match with a rasping forehand that his opponent returned well wide.

 

Data Slam: King of Clay Nadal up to 101-2

Nadal's latest victory in Paris took his record at his favourite grand slam to a staggering 101 victories and two defeats.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 28/23
Popyrin – 34/43

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal– 7/5
Popyrin – 8/5

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 4/11
Popyrin – 1/4

Roger Federer is enjoying the "whole rhythm thing" of playing at a grand slam again but admits he has no idea what he is capable of achieving at the French Open.

The Swiss looked sharp in his first-round match on Monday against Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, posting a 6-2 6-4 6-3 win – coming through his first match at a major since the 2020 Australian Open and subsequent knee surgery.

It was partly his prowess but perhaps also the shortcomings of Istomin's performance that allowed 2009 champion Federer to put on a show on Court Philippe Chatrier, setting up a clash with a familiar foe in Marin Cilic next.

Federer and Cilic will be going head to head for an 11th time – Federer leads the series 9-1 – and for the first time since the 2018 Australian Open final, which went the way of Basle's 20-time grand slam winner in five sets.

It will be their sixth clash in a slam and at the earliest stage they have encountered each other at a major, with those past tussles also including the 2017 Wimbledon final, when an injury-hampered Cilic lost in straight sets.

Federer spoke after beating Istomin of how it is difficult to gauge what he might go on to manage at Roland Garros.

"In a way, I like this situation, that I don't know what's next, how my next match will be. I don't even know who I play, to be honest," Federer said.

"I take it round by round, match by match. I think it's going to help me, with the way I go about it. I'm very happy I won today. It gives me a chance again to test myself on Thursday, I believe. I don't know when I'm playing.

"So see how I feel tomorrow morning. Just all these things going through practice, coming to the site, seeing people, just this whole rhythm thing.

"It's nice to be back in it."

Federer is in Paris without his family due to COVID-19 restrictions and worries it will be the same story at Wimbledon.

But he added: "We signed up for it. I didn't do rehab to then sit at home again. There's a lot to look forward to."

MEDVEDEV WINS AT LAST

Daniil Medvedev's status as the second seed in Paris was the factor that made it possible for Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to be drawn in the same half of the draw, which is what transpired.

There is an element of farce about Medvedev being seeded above 13-time Roland Garros champion Nadal, because the Russian has gone out in the first round in each of his previous visits to the clay-court slam.

However, on Monday, the world number two made a breakthrough, winning well in a match where he was expected to run into trouble as he earned a 6-3 6-3 7-5 victory over Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik.

"It doesn't feel different than the Australian Open for me coming into this tournament. Now when I'm coming to these big tournaments feeling like this, I know I'm capable of doing big things," Medvedev said.

"If I lose here in Roland Garros it's probably going to be because my opponent will play really good."

NEXTGEN MAKE EARLY IMPACT

David Goffin, the Belgian 13th seed, lost 6-0 7-5 7-6 (7-3) to 19-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti, and it was a day when the sight of 39-year-old Federer turning on the style was balanced by the inspiring sight of the next generation showing their potential.

Musetti's fellow Italian Jannik Sinner is also 19 and is the 18th seed, showing on Monday he has the fight to come through tough battles, rallying from two sets to one down to beat experienced French player Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-1 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4.

It was the first time Sinner had won a deciding set in a best-of-five match.

Sinner, Musetti and Spain's Carlos Alcaraz could all be major factors at Roland Garros in future years.

Alcaraz, who turned 18 in early May, followed up his run through qualifying and to the second round of the Australian Open by doing the same in the French capital.

He dropped only 11 games in winning three best-of-three-set qualifiers last week and was too strong for his 24-year-old compatriot Bernabe Zapata Miralles, snatching a 6-3 2-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) win for a first senior win at Roland Garros.

"I think the mental game is really, really important in this kind of matches," Alcaraz said. "You have to be focused and calm all the match, like three hours and 10 minutes.

"It's really important and not easy to do. In the match I trusted a lot in my physical side. I could play really, really good game during the whole match."

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