French Open news: Defending champion Novak Djokovic cruises past Yoshihito Nishioka

Novak Djokovic looks in good form following his Italian Open crown last week. The Serbian is targeting his third French Open triumph after wins in 2016 and 2021

Novak Djokovic admitted he was "happy to be back" after dropping just four games as he got his French Open defence under way in dominant style against Yoshihito Nishioka on Monday.

The Serbian beat Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3 6-1 6-0 in a one-sided first night match of the tournament on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The World No 1 was returning to the Grand Slam stage four months after being deported from Australia ahead of the Australian Open over his Covid vaccination status.

Djokovic was in cruise-control throughout his opening round encounter needing just an hour and 59 minutes for victory and continues his fine form after winning his first title six months last week at the Italian Open.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion is looking for a third title at Roland Garros following victories in 2016 and last year.

"I have to be pleased with the match," Djokovic said. "I struggled to adapt in the first set. He is a very quick player. The first set was close but I cruised through the second and third.

"I always expect the highest for myself but it was a very good start.

"I have been feeling well on clay in the past few weeks. I am happy to be back. The memories from last year are fresh in my mind."

Through the gears

It was actually a slightly sluggish start for Djokovic who saved three break points in a lively opening game to hold serve.

Japan's Nishioka was calm and in control until he wobbled with his serve when 3-2 down as Djokovic took the first break of the match.

The Serbian settled and moved up through the gears as he broke in the first game of the second set. A rare lapse in concentration when serving at 5-0 allowed Nishioka to steal his first game of the set.

But the 35-year-old Djokovic broke back immediately to secure the second set before cruising through to wrap up a dominant victory, much to the delight of his many French fans.

Djokovic will play Fedrico Coria and Alex Molcan in the second round.

READ MORE: Emma Raducanu comes through gruelling three-setter vs Linda Noskova

Latest news