Novak Djokovic Triumphs in First Round at 2024 Roland Garros, Defeating Pierre-Hugues Herbert

Novak Djokovic, the reigning world No. 1 in tennis, commenced his quest for another Roland Garros title with a hard-fought victory against Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

The match, which unfolded on Tuesday evening at Court Philippe-Chatrier, saw Djokovic secure a straight-set win of 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

Novak Djokovic Triumphs in First Round at 2024 Roland Garros, Defeating Pierre-Hugues Herbert

The world No. 1 has spent most of 2024 trying to find his best form. Under the lights of Court Philippe-Chatrier, he overcame the French wild card in two hours and thirty-one minutes after navigating a difficult three sets. The winner would then need to make it to the final to have a chance of defying Jannik Sinner atop the ATP rankings.

Since winning the ATP Finals to cap off the 2023 season, Djokovic has not won a championship. This is an unusually long gap for the 24-time Grand Slam champion, since it is the longest since he spent 11 months without winning a championship in 2017 and 2018.

After losing to Sinner in the semifinals of the Australian Open and shockingly to unheralded Italian Luca Nardi in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, he withdrew from the Miami Open. Djokovic, who turned 37 earlier this month, took a wild card into the Gonet Geneva Open last week after sustaining an odd head injury during the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. There, he won his 1100th career victory but fell to Tomas Machac in a recurrent battle in the quarterfinals.

Even though Djokovic was making his 20th main draw appearance in Paris, he was among the favorites to win his fourth championship on the terre battue. Herbert, a former world No. 36 who has since dropped out of the Top 100 due to his greater success in doubles, was a particularly strong favorite to win. The 33-year-old, five-time major champion in men’s doubles has also spoken out about the terrible disease that his youngest child endured.

He posted on social media, “Our son, Leandre, who was 4 months old at the time, was diagnosed with congenital hyperinsunilism, a rare genetic disease.” “We have, thankfully, completed our final hospital stay following weeks spent in three different hospitals, numerous exams, doctor appointments, mishaps, and worry. Early in April, Leandre underwent a ten-hour pancreatic surgery.

After his son’s recovery, Herbert was able to face Djokovic head-on and took full advantage of his night session schedule, playing to a boisterous home crowd.

Also Read: Rafael Nadal’s Record Breaking Roland Garros Reign: Challenged by Alexander Zverev in 2024

Early on in the match, Djokovic showed dominance; he broke in the third game and held on to win the first set. Herbert, however, started to stake his claim on the match after being broken up in the second set. He eventually forced a tiebreaker.

Herbert kept things close in the third game and had Djokovic to grind for the victory in the fourth, even though he lost the Sudden Death.

Unfazed, Djokovic continued to exert pressure on the serve and had an opportunity to seal the victory when Herbert committed a poorly timed double fault that left him two points short of victory. Two points after Herbert had left Djokovic reeling, the Serbian hit back with a powerful forehand winner and a backhand down the line to secure a match point. Herbert’s final double fault was enough to push Djokovic across the finish line.

Roberto Carballés Baena, who defeated Constant Lestienne in four sets despite a late charge, will be facing the number one seed in the second round. The unseeded Spaniard has lost against Djokovic twice in Grand Slam events, the most recent being at the Australian Open in 2023.

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