Djokovic sees off Sousa

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Novak Djokovic dropped seven games on his way to victory (AP) Novak Djokovic dropped seven games on his way to victory (AP)

Novak Djokovic kicked off his bid for a maiden French Open win with a first-round victory against Joao Sousa.

The French is the only grand slam that does not sit in Djokovic's trophy cabinet and he has been widely tipped to amend that over the coming weeks - largely due to Rafael Nadal's recent failures on the red surface.

Sousa did little to stop him in this one, with Djokovic winning 6-1 6-2 6-4 - as easily as he did when the two met at the US Open last year.

There was enough to suggest that Djokovic may not be as good a bet as had been claimed, though, with a number of loose shots and concentration lapses likely to be noted by the Nadal camp.

That Djokovic stopped chasing balls down in the third set will be of particular concern to him and coach Boris Becker, with the match going on for far longer than it should have done.

Djokovic made his mark on the match early on, eventually breaking at the end of a nine-minute second game when Sousa netted a forehand to cash in a fifth break point.

He held to love and then broke again, this time at the first attempt, as his opponent planted a two-hander wide.

Sousa would at least respond with a break of his own before a lengthy rain delay, but offered his serve up again on the other side of it.

Not entirely settled on his own delivery Djokovic then went three break points down as he looked to close out the set, but recovered with five points in a row.

The second set started a little tighter but the six-time major winner got the break he was looking for in the fifth game, Sousa double-faulting on break point.

That became a double break as the Serb upgraded a second bonus point when Sousa put a forehand wide, before the rain came again. The players did not leave the court this time and Djokovic entertained the crowd by inviting a ball boy to sit with him under his umbrella.

He had to sharpen up after the restart as he went a break point down but quickly did so and took the set 6-2.

Sousa appeared to be done for now and lost his serve in the third game of the next set, slapping a forehand into the net, and also in the fifth via a brilliant forehand.

The Portuguese did fashion two break points back, though, and took the second of them as Djokovic relaxed. The world number two responded with another break but then lost his own serve as he looked to serve his way into the next round.

Sousa kept it alive for another game, with Djokovic showing minimal interest in returning his shots before finally getting the job done.

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