French Open: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer earn wins

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Roland Garros
Highlights - Djokovic and Federer ease through in Paris

Novak Djokovic enjoyed one of the more straightforward victories of his six-month unbeaten run as he saw off Thiemo de Bakker in the opening round of the French Open.

The Serbian, who turned 24 on Sunday, needed just one hour and 32 minutes to defeat Dutchman De Bakker 6-2 6-1 6-3 and extend his winning streak to 40 matches.

Third seed Roger Federer followed Djokovic onto the stadium court and was similarly impressive as he swept past Spain's Feliciano Lopez 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

A former star of the junior circuit, the now 22-year-old De Bakker has struggled to make an impact at the top of the game and there is no sterner test right now than facing Djokovic.

The world number two is the man of the moment and his arrival on Court Philippe Chatrier prompted the first real buzz of excitement at Roland Garros this year.

An immediate break of serve by Djokovic set the tone as his crisp hitting was just too consistent for De Bakker, and a cross-court forehand winner half an hour later delivered the first set.

The earlier buzz had descended to a low hum of distracted chat among the spectators by the middle of the second set as Djokovic set about demolishing the world number 71.

Roger Federer serves in Paris
Federer sealed victory with an ace in the third set tie-breaker

De Bakker smacked a ball high into the air in mock celebration after battling desperately to a service hold early in the third set but he was already a break down, and Djokovic showed no mercy as he saw out a victory that will have taken little out of him.

Monday's dry conditions and the introduction this year of new, apparently faster, balls should all work in Djokovic's favour as he targets a first French Open title - and he currently looks capable of playing through just about anything no matter what the obstacles.

"It was a great first match for me in Roland Garros," said the second seed. "I was serving really, really well and being very aggressive, using every opportunity to step into the court. I was quite in control of the match."

And asked about his unbeaten run, Djokovic added: "It's been an amazing streak which, if you asked me in the beginning of the year 'would I expect that?' No, I didn't expect that, to go this far.

"But the hard work that I put into it is paying off now and I'm really trying to have the right mental approach to every match that I play, trying to think only about winning, about the next opponent, and this is what keeps me on the ground and keeps me very focused.

"I'm trying not to think about the streak that I have, even though it's definitely something that makes me proud."

Federer has been enduring a far patchier year and was widely expected to face a more testing start to his campaign against world number 41 Lopez, who had been two points from victory against Federer in Madrid recently.

The Swiss remains a powerful force in Grand Slams, however, and after making the first breakthrough in game seven he controlled proceedings.

A narrow third set suggested Lopez might be able to extend matters but a double fault in the tie-break handed Federer three match points and the 29-year-old sealed it with an ace.

"It's definitely slower than Madrid, so I think Feliciano was maybe not getting the free points he was looking for," Federer said of the stadium court surface.

"The important thing from my side was to be solid on my own serve, which I was all the way through the start to the finish, and I thought I played a good match."

Federer might have slipped to third in the rankings but he is not convinced that his rivalry with world number one Rafael Nadal is being threatened by Djokovic.

"I think they definitely need to play some Grand Slam finals against each other to get to that level," he said.

"I had great rivalries with [Andy] Roddick, [Lleyton] Hewitt and Nadal - Nadal was not my only one. You go through a career where you have multiple rivals and probably one main one, and for Rafa and myself it's been either one.

"I think that will always stay no matter how many times Rafa and Novak will play each other."

Highlights - Djokovic and Federer ease through in Paris

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