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Rain hampers French Open’s third day, but Djokovic steadies himself

PARIS: Rain put a dampener on the third day of the French Open, delaying much of the action, but defending champion Novak Djokovic managed to keep his quest for a professional era record-extending 25th Grand Slam title on track with a solid start on Tuesday.

While the weather was gloomy, Casper Ruud and Aryna Sabalenka provided some bright spots on an otherwise grey Parisian day with impressive first-round victories. Denmark’s 13th seed Holger Rune also displayed his usual flair, defeating Britain’s Dan Evans in straight sets. Meanwhile, French favorite Alize Cornet bid an emotional farewell as she was overpowered by seventh seed Zheng Qinwen, marking the end of her long career.

The day took its time to get going, with play on the outside courts not commencing until 4 PM due to the rain. Spectators, many bundled in winter jackets, had little to watch early on, as players lingered in locker rooms waiting for the weather to clear. However, the retractable roofs on Courts Philippe Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen allowed some matches to proceed, helping to alleviate the backlog later in the day.

Top seed Djokovic took to the court in the evening against Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Entering the match with questions about his form following a disappointing season without reaching a final, Djokovic nonetheless secured a 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-4 victory. Despite some uneven moments, including a dip in the second set, Djokovic showcased moments of brilliance.

“It’s a straight-set win. In the moments when it mattered I think I delivered, played a great tiebreak, stayed focused,” said the Serbian star, who improved his first-round record at Roland Garros to 20-0.

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