Novak Djokovic celebrates beating Pablo Cuevas at the French Open
Djokovic has reached the French Open quarter-finals – at least – in each of the past 11 tournaments

Top seed Novak Djokovic produced another focused performance to reach the third round of the French Open for a 16th consecutive year.

The 34-year-old Serb won 6-3 6-2 6-4 in his first career meeting with tricky Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas.

Djokovic will face Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis, ranked 93rd in the world, in the last 32.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion is aiming for a second title in Paris to follow up his sole win in 2016.

If Djokovic does lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires on 13 June, the world number one will close the gap on Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Switzerland’s Roger Federer in terms of Grand Slam victories to one.

All three players find themselves in the same side of the Roland Garros draw – the first time that this has happened at a major tournament.

Eighth seed Federer, who could face Djokovic in the quarter-finals, was playing at the same time as the Serb on Thursday when he faced Croatia’s Marin Cilic on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Nadal plays his second-round match in the night session on Chatrier, taking on France’s Richard Gasquet for the right to face British number two Cameron Norrie in the next stage.

While the Spaniard has won a record 13 titles at Roland Garros and is the favourite for another, he is seeded third behind Djokovic and Russia’s Daniil Medvedev because the seeding system is based on the current world rankings.

Djokovic has made no secret of his desire to overhaul his great rivals in the race to finish with the most men’s major titles and, so far this week, has cut a tense figure as he aims to move closer to them than ever before.

Stern-faced throughout his opening win against Tennys Sandgren, Djokovic had a similar emotionless expression as he raced into a two-set lead against Cuevas.

The 35-year-old Uruguayan is a clay-court specialist known for his variety and there was an early warning for Djokovic when Cuevas broke his serve for a 2-1 lead in the opener.

That sharpened the Serb’s focus, however, and he responded by winning 10 of the next 12 games.

Djokovic served precisely and powerfully throughout the second set, but came under more pressure from the creative Cuevas at the start of the third set.

Four break points were saved by the top seed in his opening two service games of the third set, leading to a rare show of emotion as he accused a noisy spectator of trying to disrupt him during his serving motion.

A cute drop-shot sealed a 3-1 lead, with the Serb flashing a steely glare at the person in the stands who had upset him.

From that point, Djokovic was rarely troubled on serve and sealed victory with an ace out wide on his first match point.


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