French Open - Funny man Djokovic slithers, Nadal cruises at damp Roland Garros

Novak Djokovic played the funny man as he slithered to a 6-1 6-2 6-4 win over Portugal's Joao Sousa on a rain-interrupted second day at the French Open but defending champion Rafa Nadal slipped into his customary role of cold-eyed assassin on clay.

Reuters
French Open - Funny man Djokovic slithers, Nadal cruises at damp Roland Garros
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Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Joao Sousa of Portugal (Reuters)

Nadal, bidding for his ninth title at Roland Garros, hunted down Robby Ginepri during a first set that ended 6-0 in the Spaniard's favour.

The American greeted his capture of the first game of the second set with a clenched fist of mock celebration but defeat, while somewhat delayed, was inevitable as he folded 6-0 6-3 6-0.

Dark horse Kei Nishikori was the first top 10 seed in the men's or women's singles to miss out on the second round, the ninth seed from Japan losing 7-6(4) 6-1 6-2 to Slovakia's Martin Klizan.

The start of Monday's play was delayed for about one hour and even after play commenced, the rain quickly returned to stop play for another hour.

Djokovic was leading 4-1 at the time and, on the resumption, broke Sousa to love. He then recovered from 0-40 on his own serve to wrap up the first set with two crushing first serves.

Rain began to fall again with the Serb, who is strongly fancied to end Rafael Nadal's hold on the title, preparing to serve for the set at 5-2. Djokovic sat, looking slightly ridiculous, in a white hooded waterproof jacket as the umpire decided whether to take the players off court.

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Djokovic made a series of faces at the camera before inviting a ball boy to share his seat, and a soft drink. They chatted about his racquet and life in general under a large umbrella to the amusement of the sheltering crowd.

When play resumed after five minutes, they shook hands politely before resuming their previous roles.

"It was a nice, fun time, something unusual for the grand slams," said Djokovic.

"We waited for around 10 minutes in the pouring rain on the court, so I felt there's something I should do and make a new friend. He accepted the offer to sit down, which I didn't think he would do. So he's very spontaneous little boy, and I hope I see him my next match."

Djokovic, who beat Nadal in the Italian Open final in Rome this month, also criticised the state of the court after several days of rain in the French capital. During his match, the players' first serves kicked up sprays of wet clay.

"The court is not in great shape at the moment, balls get heavier, and the more difficult it is for you to move, to penetrate the shots. Everything becomes slower," he said, "so it is more effort on your body."

Nadal, playing on the Court Suzanne Lenglen, was held in check by world No.279 Ginepri for several games in the second set but his relentless power and attritional accuracy from the baseline proved too much for the wildcard.

"Obviously coming from Tallahassee Challenger no one is hitting like that," Ginepri told reporters.

The last few games were played in weak sunshine but the forecast is for further periods of rain during the first week of the second grand slam of the year.

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Djokovic beat Nadal, eight times the champion at Roland Garros, in the Rome final this month, and looked in ominously good form.

The Serb broke Sousa in his opening service game as the players' first serves kicked up sprays of wet clay, but the Portuguese continued to go for his shots, particularly as the match slipped away from him.

Djokovic was too strong, although after leading 4-1 in the final set, he dropped his serve twice on the run-in, the first time after a double fault that was not even close. He won the match with an ace on his second match point.

Japanese ninth seed Nishikori, coached by 1989 Roland Garros champion Michael Chang, crumbled to a 7-6(4) 6-1 6-2 defeat by Slovakia's Klizan after serving for the first set at 5-3.

The injury-prone Japanese said he had not been able to practise enough after retiring injured from the Madrid Open final, and he feared this would be his future.

"It really sucks, I have to say, a lot of injuries. It's tough for me, but I guess this is my tennis life. I have to take care of my body and injury will come again, for sure," Nishikori, who was on the verge of beating Nadal in the Madrid final before his injury setback, said.

Miloslav Mecir, the son of the 1988 Olympic gold medallist of the same name, was knocked out by Tobias Kamke of Germany 7-5 7-6(2) 7-6(1) in his first match in a grand slam, after coming through the qualifiers.

Nishikori, coached by 1989 Roland Garros champion Michael Chang and tipped as one of the dangermen in the draw after an impressive claycourt season, crumbled to defeat against Klizan after serving for the first set at 5-3.

The injury-prone Japanese said he had not been able to practise enough after retiring in the Madrid Open final where he had been leading Nadal.

"It really sucks, I have to say. It's tough for me, but I guess this is my tennis life. I have to take care of my body and injury will come again, for sure," Nishikori said.

Miloslav Mecir, the son of the 1988 Olympic gold medallist of the same name, was knocked out by Tobias Kamke of Germany 7-5 7-6(2) 7-6(1) in his first match in a grand slam, after coming through the qualifiers.

Facundo Bagnis of Argentina won one of the strangest matches at the French Open 18-16 in the fifth set - three and a half hours after taking the first two sets against Julien Benneteau with the loss of just three games.

Qualifier Bagnis, ranked 143rd in the ATP rankings, wept into his shirt after holding on to beat the local favourite 6-1 6-2 1-6 3-6 18-16 for the biggest win of his career.

The final set alone lasted 144 minutes, more than the other four put together.

The longest match at the Roland Garros grand slam was Fabrice Santoro's defeat of fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement in 2010 which lasted six hours 33 minutes and ended 16-14 in the fifth set.

Several matches were postponed because of the delay caused by the rain.

French Open men's round one results

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Spain) beat 3-Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland) 6-4 5-7 6-2 6-0

Leonardo Mayer (Argentina) beat James Duckworth (Australia) 5-7 6-2 6-4 7-6(2)

Donald Young (US) beat Dudi Sela (Israel) 6-1 2-6 6-1 6-0

Dominic Thiem (Austria) beat Paul-Henri Mathieu (France) 6-4 7-6(3) 6-2

Facundo Bagnis (Argentina) beat Julien Benneteau (France) 6-1 6-2 1-6 3-6 18-16

18-Ernests Gulbis (Latvia) beat Lukasz Kubot (Poland) 4-6 6-4 7-5 6-1

Adrian Mannarino (France) beat Lu Yen-Hsun (Taiwan) 6-2 6-1 6-1

Thomaz Bellucci (Brazil) beat Benjamin Becker (Germany) 6-2 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2

14-Fabio Fognini (Italy) beat Andreas Beck (Germany) 6-4 6-4 6-1

1-Rafa Nadal (Spain) beat Robby Ginepri (US) 6-0 6-3 6-0

26-Feliciano Lopez (Spain) beat Damir Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 6-3 7-6(8) 6-3

27-Roberto Bautista (Spain) beat Paolo Lorenzi (Italy) 6-3 7-5 6-2

Alejandro Gonzalez (Colombia) beat Michael Russell (U.S.) 6-2 6-4 6-7(6) 6-1

17-Tommy Robredo (Spain) beat James Ward (Britain) 4-6 6-4 6-2 6-4

Teymuraz Gabashvili (Russia) beat 30-Vasek Pospisil (Canada) 6-4 6-2 6-3

Jurgen Melzer (Austria) beat David Goffin (Belgium) 6-4 5-7 7-5 6-4

2-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) beat Joao Sousa (Portugal) 6-1 6-2 6-4

29-Gilles Simon (France) beat Ante Pavic (Croatia) 6-1 6-1 6-3

Mikhail Kukushkin (Kazakhstan) beat Nicolas Mahut (France) 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3 6-4

Tobias Kamke (Germany) beat Miloslav Mecir Jr. (Slovakia) 7-5 7-6(2) 7-6(1)

25-Marin Cilic (Croatia) beat Pablo Andujar (Spain) 6-0 6-3 7-6(6)

Jiri Vesely (Czech Republic) beat Lukas Rosol (Czech Republic) 6-2 7-6(6) 7-5

Martin Klizan (Slovakia) beat 9-Kei Nishikori (Japan) 7-6(4) 6-1 6-2

Marcel Granollers (Spain) beat Ivan Dodig (Croatia) 2-2 (Dodig retired)

Robin Haase (Netherlands) beat Nikolay Davydenko (Russia) 7-5 6-4 6-2

Benoit Paire (France) beat Alejandro Falla (Colombia) 6-3 6-4 7-6(4)

Kenny De Schepper (France) beat Albert Montanes (Spain) 3-1 (Montanes retired)

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