Djokovic Makes Successful Return; Lopez Aces Into Quarter-final
by ATP Staff|
ATP World No. 3 Novak Djokovic marked his return to the ATP World Tour with a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over tricky first-round opponent Jeremy Chardy of France on Wednesday at the Open 13, an ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Marseille.
In a strong serving display, Djokovic fired 11 aces, surrendered just five points behind his first serve and saved the only break point that he faced in the one-hour and 26-minute victory over Chardy - who reached his first ATP World Tour final at Johannesburg (l. to Tsonga) two weeks ago.
The 21-year-old Djokovic is playing his first tour-level event since retiring with a heat-related illness against Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. The Serbian, who was also a semi-finalist in Sydney (l. to Nieminen), improved to a 7-3 match record on the season.
"You always have to be happy when you win, especially after a couple of weeks off," commented Djokovic. "I tried to recover after the Australian Open quarter-finals and tried to get some rhythm. It was hard to get some rhythm today because I played against a big server and we were both serving well with a high percentage of first serves. It was just a matter of a couple of points that decided the winner."
The Belgrade native won four tour-level titles on as many continents last season, including his first Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open (d. Tsonga) and Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai (d. Davydenko) – now renamed Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at London’s O2 Arena in November. The right-hander has a 2-2 record in Marseille and will look to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in three visits when he faces Jan Hernych next.
"Jan is a player who likes to take the ball early and he’s a player with a great touch," said Djokovic, looking ahead. "He has a pretty solid serve and nice baseline strokes and he goes to the net a lot. So I think I’m going to get more rhythm with him than I did today and hopefully I can get a positive outcome."
Fourth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (pictured) pleased home tennis fans when he advanced to the second round with a 7-6(5), 6-2 victory over Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan. World No. 117 Golubev gave Tsonga a scare when he served for the first set at 6-5, however the Frenchman rallied to draw level and take a one-set lead in the tie-break before breaking serve twice in the second set to secure the win after 79 minutes.
The 23-year-old Tsonga has compiled a career-best 15-3 match record at the start of the season. The Le Mans native has reached the quarter-finals or better at all five tour-level events played this year, highlighted by his third ATP World Tour title at Johannesburg (d. Chardy). The World No. 12 now goes on to face Simone Bolelli.
In a first round meeting between two Frenchmen, third seed Gael Monfils fell to Paul-Henri Mathieu 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. Monfils served 26 aces and won 91 per cent of his first serve points, but managed to convert just one of his 11 break point opportunities while Mathieu made good on two of his three chances. It marked Monfils' earliest exit thus far in the 2009 ATP World Tour tennis season, having reached the semi-finals at Doha (l. to Roddick) and Rotterdam (l. to Nadal) and the fourth round at the Australian Open (l. to Simon) in his other appearances. Monfils had entered the week at a career-high No. 11 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings.
Mathieu will look to win consecutive matches for the first time since a semi-effort at Brisbane in the opening week of the season when he faces another countryman, Michael Llodra, in the second round. The Paris native defeated South African lucky loser Rik de Voest 7-6(2), 6-1 to advance to the second round for just the second time in four attempts.
Meanwhile, Swiss lucky loser George Bastl took full advantage of his opportunity to win his 50th tour-level match (50-92 record) by defeating last week’s Rotterdam quarter-finalist Marc Gicquel of France 6-4, 6-3. It was 227th-ranked Bastl’s first victory on the ATP World Tour since October 2008 at Stockholm (d. Nielsen, l. to Montanes).
Eighth seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain aced his way into his first ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season with a 7-6(4), 7-6(1) victory over Russian Dmitry Tursunov. Lopez, who out-aced Ivan Ljubicic 13-12 in the first round, added a further 18 aces to his tally in a second-round match that featured no breaks of serve and lasted one hour and 41 minutes.
World No. 28 Lopez had not won a tour-level match prior to his arrival in Marseille. The Madrid resident had suffered three first round losses at Sydney (l. to Nieminen), the Australian Open (l. to Muller 14-16 fifth set) and Rotterdam (l. to Benneteau). The 27-year-old left-hander is making his fifth appearance in Marseille and enjoyed a semi-final run in 2005 (l. to J. Johansson).
Russian Mikhail Youzhny reached his third successive Marseille quarter-final after defeating Italian Andreas Seppi 7-6(2), 6-3. World No. 62 Youzhny, who upset fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the first round, was also a quarter-finalist last week in Rotterdam (l. to Ancic) and improved to a 5-4 match record on the season.
German Mischa Zverev ousted 2006 Marseille champion Arnaud Clement 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 to earn his place in the quarter-finals, firing 15 aces and winning four of his 10 break points during the two-hour, 23-minute match. Zverev also reached this stage in his last ATP World Tour appearance two weeks ago in Zagreb, but retired during his match against Hernych due to bronchitis. He could face a repeat of that match in the quarter-finals, should Hernych prevail against World No. 3 Djokovic.