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Novak Djokovic sweeps Carballes Baena to reach French 3rd round

Novak Djokovic sweeps Carballes Baena to reach French 3rd round

Defending champion Novak Djokovic was briefly made to work hard by unseeded Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena before sealing a routine 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory and motoring into the French Open third round on Thursday.

Djokovic hasn’t been at his convincing best in an erratic season, and the No. 1 seed from Serbia was dragged into a battle in the first set by Carballes Baena after recovering an early break.

Having nosed ahead on serve in the ninth game, Djokovic, 37, set up a break point with a big overhead smash after a 24-shot rally and pounced to take the first set as spectators on Court Philippe Chatrier sensed a return to a more familiar level.

“There’s always conviction and belief inside of me that I can win a Grand Slam,” Djokovic said. “That’s the reason I’m still competing at this level. That’s why I’m here. At this age I wouldn’t be competing at the Grand Slams and continuing to play professional tennis if I didn’t believe I possess quality to go all the way to the title match.

“I still of course sense that I have the game and I have the goods to go far.”

Djokovic moved up a few notches in the next set for a 4-0 lead before Carballes Baena, 31, even got on the board.

The pair’s previous two encounters were both at hard-court majors, but the outcome was no different on clay as Djokovic jumped ahead 5-1 in the third set and wrapped up the victory.

After the match, Djokovic addressed his motivation as he bids for a record 25th Grand Slam title but also has gone through 2024 so far without a title. He said he knows he might have off weeks but that his process isn’t changing.

“In terms of my commitment to the practice weeks and practice sessions, that hasn’t gone down, to be honest,” he said. “I really, you know, whatever my team and I agree on and whatever they want me to do, I do it. I show up every day on practice courts and gym and whatever I need to do fitness-wise, mental preparation, whatever it takes.”

Djokovic said his mindset has become sharper, though.

“I’m focused pretty much solely on Grand Slams and Olympics this year, and playing for my country, really,” he said. “That’s something that really drives me the most. … But yeah, it is becoming a little bit more challenging for me to push myself every single tournament to be really at the top.”

Fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev also reached the third round after his opponent, Miomir Kecmanovic, retired while trailing 6-1, 5-0. The Serbian player decided to…

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