Daniil Medvedev is outgrowing his phobia of spiders while learning how to handle his tennis fears as he targets a long run at the French Open.

The popular Russian made pain-free progress past Serbian Laslo Djere on Thursday, winning 6-3 6-4 6-3 to set up a third-round clash with Miomir Kecmanovic.

He spoke afterwards about the difficulties of staying informed about off-court matters, particularly whether there could be twists to come surrounding Wimbledon's ban of Russian and Belarusian players this year.

Medvedev is keen to keep his focus on what happens on court, and while tennis may stoke up emotions, such as when the world number two was cut up by his defeat to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final, he is determined to develop mechanisms to deal with trauma.

"I think fear is one of the toughest emotions in people's lives, because a lot of mistakes we do in life are because we are scared of something," Medvedev said.

"That's how I think. And yeah, I'm a little bit scared of spiders, but I need to say I was much more scared when I was 10 or 12.

"When you grow up you need to sometimes face your fears. I never saw a tarantula, so I think I'm going to be scared if I see one. I'm not scared any more of small spiders.

"Fear is actually what we can feel every day in tennis. You're scared to lose. Sometimes you are scared what people are going to think about you.

"For example, I was number one in the world for two weeks, if I'm not mistaken. I'm not scared if people are going to say, 'Well, yeah, it doesn't matter, you were only two weeks'.

"But you can be scared of this. I think in every sport, especially the higher you get, the more you can have this situation.

"I try to work hard on not being scared of anything and just learning, even if I do mistakes, not being scared to repeat them but try not to repeat them.

"To be honest, I'm not scared of much right now in my life."

World number one Novak Djokovic highlighted the joy of having fans back in full attendance after he collected his second consecutive straight sets win to advance to the third round of the French Open, beating Alex Molcan 6-2 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

In his first-round fixture against Yoshihito Nishioka, Djokovic won 55 per cent of the total points in the first set, and increased that number in the second and third.

This time, however, it was Molcan who was slowly improving as the match wore on, as Djokovic won 70 per cent of the first-set points, 57 per cent in the second and 53 per cent as he was taken to a tie-breaker in the third.

Speaking to the media after his win, the Serbian star said he feels in good touch, and gave credit to his "tricky opponent".

"I'm pleased with the way I'm feeling on the court [and] the way I’ve been striking the ball," he said.

"I think today was also under challenging conditions and playing against a specialist on clay, someone that is a tricky opponent and coming off from the [Lyon] final last week. 

"It was never going to be an easy match, but I thought I performed very well."

He went on to discuss how energising it is to have a full crowd after there was a limited capacity for his 2021 triumph.

"It's great to see the crowd back [and] the full capacity on all courts," he said. "Lots of young people, lots of kids, this is something that I really love to see.

"It always gives you energy. For me at this stage of my career, a crowd and this energy of people coming to watch me play is one of the biggest reasons why I keep on competing [and] playing professional tennis."

Djokovic will play Slovakian Aljaz Bedene in the third round, and despite being aware of his collision course with Rafael Nadal set for the quarter-finals, he said looking ahead that far serves little purpose.

"You are aware what's going on with the other guys, at least in my case, and I know that everyone else is watching everybody else," he said.

"[But] that cannot be dominating most of your time and energy that you invest in a day. 

"So you are aware, but then of course it's really not up to you what they do. It's what you have to do, win matches and make good results."

Carlos Alcaraz kept the nerves at bay when facing match point against Albert Ramos-Vinolas by forgetting that he was playing at the French Open.

The sixth seed saved match point in the fourth set and rallied from 0-3 in the fifth set to complete a 6-1 6-7 (7-9) 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 success on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

Teenager Alcaraz enjoyed an emphatic start against his fellow Spaniard, but the experienced Ramos-Vinolas showed admirable poise to take the second and third sets in Paris on Wednesday.

Ramos-Vinolas' ability to fight off break points – coupled with Alcaraz's lack of ruthlessness – gave him the upper hand, and he came within one point of knocking out the Madrid Open champion.

But he crumbled on his own serve at 5-4 in the fourth, and from there Alcaraz's greater mobility and relentlessness when chasing seemingly lost causes had the 19-year-old looking the favourite.

Eventually he came out on top after the longest match of his fledgling career at four hours and 34 minutes, setting up a third-round clash with Sebastian Korda.

"You always have nerves in the match, but I think today I wasn't nervous," said Alcaraz.

"Just maybe at the end of the fourth when I had the match point [to save]. I maybe thought I was one point away from losing, but just try not to think that I'm in the French Open.

"I'm trying to enjoy the moment. I think that in the fourth set, and in the fifth, I smile with my team.

"I enjoy the battles. I want to play big battles and tough battles against the best players in the world."

Alcaraz was won four titles this year, including success at two ATP 1000 events, and feels at home playing on the show courts.

"I'm still young, but I would say pretty experienced player now," said Alcaraz.

"I feel comfortable playing in big stadiums, big matches, playing in grand slams. Physically. I'm strong. Mentally, I'm strong as well.

"I think I'm ready to play these kinds of matches in these situations, these tournaments. I'm ready."

Alexander Zverev says he was planning a holiday when he found himself two sets down to Sebastian Baez in the French Open on Wednesday.

Baez was on the verge of a huge win on Court Philippe-Chatrier, but Zverev roared back to win 2-6 4-6 6-1 6-2 7-5 and move into the third round.

It was the third time the German had come from two sets down to secure a victory, having done so at the 2019 US Open semi-finals and at the 2021 French Open.

Zverev, who saved match point, claims he was thinking about being on the beach when he was on the ropes at Roland Garros.

"I couldn't have played any worse [at the start], I just tried to find a rhythm and did that. I'm happy still being in the tournament right now," he said.

"I was planning my holiday in Monaco, where I was going to go and who I was going to with and that relaxed me, thinking about the beach.

"You just have to find a way. You talk about mental strength and the greats, like Rafa [Nadal], Roger [Federer] and Novak [Djokovic], they always find a way.

"I will never be at their level, but I'm trying to get closer to them."

Zverev spoke to Baez at the net following his victory, and asked what he said to the 21-year-old Argentine, he replied: "I told Sebastian this is the worst you will ever feel on a tennis court, right now at this moment.

"I know how he feels as I lost the US Open final from being two sets up and was two points away.

"Then the next season I won an Olympic Games gold medal, so you always get better. He is an unbelievably great kid and he will do a lot of unbelievable things in this sport."

Zverev will next face Brandon Nakashima, who has reached the third round in a grand slam for the first time on his debut in Paris.

The German will hope to sure up his game for that match, given he made 46 unforced errors against Baez - just one fewer than his opponent.

Novak Djokovic progressed to the third round of the French Open with a 6-2 6-3 7-6 (7-4) and progress to the third round at the French Open.

Reigning Roland Garros champion Djokovic needed just half-an-hour to wrap up the first set and looked on his way to a routine win after taking the second set with similar ease.

But Molcan, coached by Djokovic's former mentor Marian Vajda, rallied in the third set, breaking the world number one for the first time.

He forced deuce at 6-5 up on Djokovic's serve, but the 20-time grand slam champion reeled off two straight points to take the set to a tie-break.

World number 38 Molcan started the tie-break by putting Djokovic onto the back foot, forcing the Serbian to scamper across the baseline with some wonderful volleys. He saved the first of three match points with a superb drop shot, but ultimately his opponent had too much.

Djokovic, who struck 10 aces and 40 winners in  a match that lasted two hours and 16 minutes, will face Aljaz Bedene in round three.

Data Slam: Seventeen and counting for Novak

Djokovic, who has won the French Open twice, has now made it into the third round at Roland Garros for the 17th straight year, since making his second appearance at the grand slam back in 2006.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 40/19
Molcan – 31/34

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 10/0
Molcan – 4/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 4/8
Molcan – 1/2

Stefanos Tsitsipas completed the third comeback win from two sets down of his career on Tuesday, defeating Lorenzo Musetti 5-7 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-2 at the French Open.

Before moving to a 2-0 head-to-head record over Musetti, the fourth-seed Greek's last such victory was against Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals at the 2021 Australian Open.

Tsitsipas needed to draw on that experience and dig deep after only winning 60 per cent of points on his first serve in the first two sets on Tuesday, going on to then win 15 of 17 points in the deciding set.

Post-match, the world number four explained how he needed to isolate his focus on each point and build from there after going two sets down.

"Things don't come easy. I refuse to give up. That's simply how it works with me," Tsitsipas said. "You never really think about getting back after being two sets to love. You just play it point after point. You just wish that your efforts will pay off on a longer scale, longer run.

"Being in that situation, it's a mountain that you have to climb, and I was able to climb it and regain the momentum steadily, but consistently."

The 20-year-old Musetti was able to gain early momentum from the baseline and won the longer points, with an even share of winners as well as forced and unforced errors from Tsitsipas.

The match turned as Tsitsipas regained rhythm on his serve and with more free points coming his way, it then allowed him to apply pressure.

According to Tsitsipas, however, it was far from easy against a tough opponent who is at home on clay.

"He's fighting. He's a talented player that has a very nice one-handed backhand," he said afterwards. "He knows the game on clay. He has grown up playing these courts. He's definitely a difficult opponent to face in any circumstance, really.

"Once I really found my momentum on the serve, my routines and everything, I knew that it can be a different match. 

"I felt like I was serving better than him, creating more opportunities with my serve, pressing more. It would have been kind of not fair from my perspective to have a different outcome."

 

Novak Djokovic found his footing after the first set to cruise past Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3 6-1 6-0 in Monday's opening round, and said he feels good returning to Roland Garros after winning the French Open in 2021.

It was a relatively close opening set of the tournament for Djokovic, as Nishioka created three break-point opportunities compared to the Serb's two, but Djokovic was able to save all three, while capitalising on one of his own.

Overall for the first set, Djokovic won 55 per cent of the total points, and that number climbed the longer the match went on. He won 63 per cent of the points in the second set, and 67 per cent in the third.

Speaking with the media after his match, Djokovic was excited to be back on clay as he seeks his third French Open crown – the only grand slam he has not won at least three times.

"I have to be pleased with the match," he said. "I struggled to adapt in the first set. 

"He is a very quick player. The first set was close, but I cruised through the second and third.

"I always expect the highest for myself, but it was a very good start. I have been feeling well on clay in the past few weeks. 

"I am happy to be back. The memories from last year are fresh in my mind."

In the second round, Djokovic will play the winner between Alex Molcan and Federia Coria.

Rafael Nadal declared he must improve every aspect of his game despite dominating Jordan Thompson in the first round of the French Open on Monday.

Nadal arrived at Roland Garros with just five matches under his belt in the clay-court season after recovering from a foot injury, but cruised to a 6-2 6-2 6-2 victory over Thompson on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

That moved him beyond Roger Federer's record number of victories at a single grand slam with 106 from 109 matches, with the Swiss great's 105 coming at Wimbledon.

Nadal, bidding to win the Paris major for a record-extending 14th time and take his overall haul to 22, will face Corentin Moutet in the second round and the fifth seed says there is plenty of room for improvement.

The Spaniard said: "I need to improve in all ways. I think I need to improve my movement, the speed of my forehand, the speed I think could be better and should be better. 

"I did things well, for a while was good. The conditions were heavier than usual here, very humid, the court. I don't know, [maybe] having the roof on for a long time.

"I am happy with the performance. It has been a positive start. Then of course, the kind of player that I am, I'm always looking for something else, looking for better things. 

"That's what I am going to try to find in my practice tomorrow and then in the next match."

Nadal says there is no point dwelling on the disappointment of not having played on his favourite surface as often as he usually has before the second major of the year.

He added: "I got injured, and that's it. What happened is past, and here we are. We are in Roland Garros. I am here to try my best.

"And how is my level of confidence, how the things would be or if I didn't get injured, I don't know. We will never know.

"I'm not a big fan of think about the things that could happen if – 'if' is a dangerous word.  You have to accept the moment to accept the moment, to accept the situation and to have the confidence to put all my effort in every single day, to get better and better. Let's see how far I can keep going."

Novak Djokovic started the defence of his French Open title with an emphatic straight-sets defeat of Yoshihito Nishioka.

The world number one, bidding to win a record-equalling 21st grand slam title, triumphed 6-3 6-1 6-0 in the first night session on Court Philippe-Chatrier a day after turning 35.

Djokovic was unable to play in the Australian Open after being deported from Melbourne, but hit the ground running in his first major match of the year under the lights at Roland Garros on Monday.

The top seed hit 35 winners as Japanese outsider Nishioka was given a lesson and will face Alex Molcan or Federico Coria in the second round.

Djokovic was gifted a first break when his left-handed opponent double-faulted to go 4-2 down and the Serb comfortably served out the set.

Nishioka had no answer to the two-time French Open champion and the crowd did not do the outsider any favours by booing one of the all-time greats, seemingly due to him being so superior to his opponent.

A fired-up Djokovic marched into a 5-0 lead in the second set and, although Nishioka was able to avoid a bagel, he could not take a game off the defending champion in another totally one-sided third set.

This was a statement victory for Djokovic on the back of his record-extending 38th ATP Masters 1000 crown in Rome.

 

Data Slam: Relentless Djokovic shows no mercy

This was another exhibition of returning from the favourite to win the title. Djokovic won 45 of 79 receiving points in a relentless display on day two.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 35/32
Nishioka – 17/32

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 9/0
Nishioka – 6/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 8/18
Nishioka – 1/6

Rafael Nadal has surpassed Roger Federer for match wins at a single grand slam after defeating Jordan Thompson in the first round at the French Open.

Nadal won 6-2 6-2 6-2 against the world number 82 on Monday, as he bids for a record-extending 14th title at Roland Garros.

The 35-year-old, 21-time grand slam champion has recorded 106 victories from 109 matches, excluding walkovers, at the French Open, only losing to Robin Soderling (2008) and Novak Djokovic (2015 and 2021).

Nadal's remarkable form in Paris means that he has now overtaken fellow great Roger Federer when it comes to winning matches at one of the majors.

Federer has tallied up 105 wins at Wimbledon, which the Swiss has won on eight occasions, last doing so in 2017.

Nadal, one of only three players to have previously won the French Open without losing a single set, will face wild card Corentin Moutet in round two, after the Frenchman defeated Stan Wawrinka – the 2015 champion – 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-3.

Carlos Alcaraz relished making his debut on Court Philippe Chatrier as the rising star made an impressive start to his French Open campaign.

Madrid Open champion Alcaraz won his first-round clash against Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero 6-4 6-2 6-0 as the tournament in Paris got under way on Sunday.

The 19-year-old – who has been tipped as one of the favourites to win the second major of the year – dispatched Londero in under two hours and enjoyed his time in the spotlight.

Asked about his first experience on Philippe Chatrier, Alcaraz said: "It was difficult at the beginning, but it's always special to play in such a great stadium, a great court. 

"I'm really happy with the performance in my first match in Philippe Chatrier, and hope to play more matches in this court.

"I am trying to be focused just on the tournaments, on the matches, and trying [not] to be a part of the social media and everyone talking about you.

"Just focus on what I have to improve, what I have to do on the matches, what I have to do every day to be ready in the tournament."

Elsewhere, third seed Alexander Zverev opened his campaign with a comprehensive 6-2 6-4 6-4 win over Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner.

A semi-finalist at Roland-Garros last year, Zverev – who did not even allow Ofner a single break-point opportunity – was asked what he had learned about himself in the 12 months since.

"Well, you grow, you grow up in a way," said the German. 

"Each year you understand more and more what it takes to be pro tennis players, that there are difficulties on the court, that there are difficulties in any job that you do. 

"Generally speaking, I get older, I'm 25 years old now. I'm not the young guy that Alcaraz is or some of the other guys are any more. 

"I think as any other person as well, just taking tennis away, you just get more life experience."

Zverev is yet to learn his second-round opponent, but Alcaraz will face fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas next.

Dominic Thiem admitted he needs more time to be able to complete after his frustrating return from injury continued with a "painful" French Open first-round exit to Hugo Dellien.

Thiem also hinted he could drop down to play a couple of ATP Challenger-level tournaments, having struggled upon his return from a wrist injury which ruled him out for the second half of last season.

The 2020 US Open winner, who was runner-up to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in both 2018 and 2019, arrived in the French capital on a six-match losing run, and Dellien took full advantage of the Austrian's woes to claim a 6-3 6-2 6-4 win.

Speaking after a comprehensive defeat in which he was broken four times, Thiem acknowledged he is not operating at the necessary level to compete at grand slams.

"It was not a good match at all, but it is what it is," a dejected Thiem said post-match.

"You've got to take time, as the level is extremely high from all the players competing here, and I'm not there yet. I was really working hard to get there, but the time was just not enough, I've got to accept it.

"Even though there have been some really painful defeats now week after week, still nothing unexpected happened. Had I won a lot of matches, it would have been a big surprise, so it's painful.

"I'm very disappointed, but the wait goes on."

Since his comeback, the former world number three has only won one set of tennis in seven matches - at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Marbella in March - and he thinks a return to that level could aid his recovery.

"The problem is a match situation is something different; [in a] grand slam especially," he added. "I am definitely thinking to go back to Challenger level for one or two tournaments.

"I am more tight, more nervous, and the whole body gets more tight. This is toxic to my forehand because I am still missing the fine feeling there."

Dominic Thiem's miserable return from injury took another turn for the worse when he was dumped out of the French Open by the unheralded Hugo Dellien on day one.

Thiem, who missed the second half of last season due to a wrist injury, arrived at Roland Garros on a six-match losing streak.

The Austrian was totally out of sorts once again on Court Simonne-Mathieu and Colombian Dellien capitalised, winning 6-3 6-2 6-4 on Sunday.

A two-time runner-up at the clay-court grand slam in Paris, Thiem has only won one set in seven matches since making his comeback - and that was at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Marbella in March.

The 2020 US Open champion racked up 42 unforced errors and did not have a solitary break point on another difficult day.

The 28-year-old had a first-serve success rate of only 59 per cent as world number 87 Dellien moved through to round two at Roland Garros for only the second time.

Thiem struck 29 winners to Dellien's 15, but the former world number three was broken four times as he crashed out.

Casper Ruud retained his Geneva Open title with a hard-fought defeat of Joao Sousa on Saturday.

Ruud had to dig deep in the deciding set, breaking Sousa when the Portuguese was serving for the title at 5-4, before going on to win 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 7-6 (7-1).

The world number nine has now won six of his last seven ATP 250 events on clay, and is the first player since Stan Wawrinka (2016 and 2017) to win more than one Geneva Open title.

Ruud served five aces in the first set on his way to edging a tie-break, but a determined Sousa was able to level in a second set in which he won eight of 11 second-service points.

It looked like Sousa would cause an upset against the tournament's second seed when serving for the match, only for Ruud to break back and use that momentum to take the win.

The Norwegian made the semi-finals at the Internazionali d'Italia last week and maintained his momentum ahead of the French Open by lifting the trophy in Switzerland.

"It was one of the craziest matches that I have ever played," he said in his on-court interview. "It was a lot of up and down. Sousa was close to winning and then suddenly everything turns around and this is tennis.

"This win feels so good, but you have to give a lot of credit to Joao because he fought back from one set down and has been playing well all week.

"It was just a matter of one or two points today and luckily they went in my favour."

At the Lyon Open, it was Cameron Norrie who emerged triumphant as the Brit beat Alex Molcan 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-1.

Norrie – who was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final – was largely on top throughout, firing down six aces and boasting an impressive success rate of 72 per cent of first serve points won, while also saving five of seven break points against his Slovakian opponent.

The top seed could have won in straight sets, but was unable to convert two match points in the second before being forced to a decider by Molcan.

It is Norrie's second ATP title of the season and the fourth of his career. It is his first on clay as he prepares for the second grand slam of the year at Roland Garros.

"It is my first title on the clay so it means a lot to me," Norrie said. "I can't be happier with how I handled everything this week. This one feels the best so far. I don't know why, it is just so special and I couldn't be happier and am really speechless right now. It was an incredible atmosphere. Thanks to everyone for coming out.

"I had chances to close the matches in straight sets this week and get it done easier than usual and it didn't go that way and I was able to let that go and respond. In the third set I moved really well and it is nice to get over the line."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.