Top seed Novak Djokovic cruised into the French Open third round on Thursday while last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem overcame an entertaining challenge from Kazakhstan’ Alexander Bublik while fifth seed Alexander Zverev had a rare comfortable win.
World No 1 Djokovic notched 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win over Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen while Zverev moved into the third round with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) win over Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer.
Late in the day, Argentinian eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro survived a five-set thriller against Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka. The former US Open champion was pushed all the way by the world number 72, but clinched a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2 victory after over three-and-a-quarter hours on Court Simonne Mathieu.
Del Potro’s victory means that all of the top eight seeds have reached the last 32 at Roland Garros for five straight years. The 30-year-old will play Australian Jordan Thompson for a place in the second week.
Fourth seed Thiem, one of the favourites at Roland Garros, was facing a fifth set when trailing 5-2 in the fourth, but reeled off five straight games to win 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 7-5 and reach the third round for the fourth straight year.
Djokovic, bidding to become just the second man to hold all four Slams at the same time twice, goes on to face Italian qualifier Salvatore Caruso, ranked 147, for a place in the last 16.
World number 91 Bublik delighted the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd with his wide range of shots, including an underarm serve in the opening set, but ran out of steam at the wrong time. The 25-year-old Thiem is bidding for a first Grand Slam title and has reached at least the semi-finals in Paris for three consecutive years.
He will face Pablo Cuevas in the last 32, after British no 1 Kyle Edmund retired injured from their second-round match while trailing the Uruguayan 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 2-1.
German Zverev has struggled to make an impact at the Grand Slam tournaments despite winning three Masters titles and last year’s ATP Finals. His best major effort came in Paris when he lost in the quarter-finals 12 months ago.
Zverev needed five sets to get past dogged Australian John Millman in the first round, but had no such troubles against world number 148 Ymer as he booked a last-32 clash with either Serbian 30th seed Dusan Lajovic or French qualifier Elliot Benchetrit.
Salvatore Caruso (ITA) bt Gilles Simon (FRA x26) 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
Dominic Thiem (AUT x4) bt Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 7-5
Pablo Cuevas (URU) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR x28) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 2-1 – retired
Leonardo Mayer (ARG) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG x17) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5
With AFP inputs