Novak Djokovic made a winning return to Roland Garros on Monday, holding off a third-set fightback to close out Aleksandar Kovacevic in straight sets on Court Philippe Chatrier, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (1).

And just like in so many of his wins these days, Djokovic made some history: he’s now 19-0 in his career in first-round matches at Roland Garros, a new all-time record for most wins without a loss in opening matches at the clay-court major, which began in 1925.

Djokovic breaks a tie with Rafael Nadal (18-0) for the new record. Nadal isn’t playing in Paris for the first time since 2004.

Conchita Martinez holds the all-time women’s record (17-0).

Djokovic is now 68-2 in first-round matches across all four of the Grand Slams. He has perfect records at this stage at three of them, going 17-0 at Wimbledon and 16-0 at the US Open. He’s 16-2 in first-round matches at the Australian Open, losing his first two in 2005 (to Marat Safin) and 2006 (to Paul Goldstein) but winning his last 16.

Djokovic hit almost twice as many winners as unforced errors in his opening match, 41 to 22.

Djokovic hit almost twice as many winners as unforced errors in his opening match, 41 to 22.


Djokovic looked headed for a comprehensive straight-set victory on Monday as he built a 6-3, 6-2, 3-1 lead in under two hours, but Kovacevic wasn’t going down without a fight, holding then breaking back to make it 3-all in the third. Djokovic broke again in the next game and held for a 5-3 lead, but history repeated itself right away as Kovacevic held and broke back again to make it 5-all.

After two more holds of serve the two headed for a third set tie-break, where Djokovic jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and eventually closed out the match in just under two-and-a-half hours.

Djokovic posted some impressive numbers in the match, finishing with almost twice as many winners as unforced errors, 41 to 22, which included 10 aces to just one double fault.

“He played really well, and he was handling himself very good there mentally, hanging in there. I served for the match, he broke me. I mean, credit to him for fighting spirit,” Djokovic said afterwards.

“You know, of course I want to dominate whoever I play against regardless of the circumstances and who is across the net, but, you know, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I think I played really well and held things under control for two-and-a-half sets, and then lost my serve and things got a little bit on the wrong side for me.

“But, you know, I managed to hold my nerves and played pretty much a perfect tie-break.”