Novak Djokovic gets back to his old routine at the French Open showing his best form of the year with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena

  • Novak Djokovic beat Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena to reach the third round
  • It was the first time that the Serbian has shown his typical best form in 2024

It took until the end of May, but the real Novak Djokovic has finally made his first appearance of the season.

The world No1 has been a shadow of his former self and came into the French Open without having reached a single final this year.

He made heavy weather of French wildcard Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round and when he was broken in the first game of his second round match by Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena, more toils looked to be ahead.

But Djokovic broke straight back and by the time he wrapped up a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win he looked more like the titan who won 24 Grand Slams and less like the fellow who lost to world No 123 Luca Nardi in March.

It felt appropriate on a day when crowd behaviour was the talk of Roland Garros that it was an incident with a misbehaving fan that kicked Djokovic into gear.

Novak Djokovic showed his usual form for the first time this year in a straight sets victory

Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena broke the Serbian in the first game, but lost 6-4, 6-1, 6-2

Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena broke the Serbian in the first game, but lost 6-4, 6-1, 6-2

The 37-year-old Serb was leading 5-4 in the first set when he ran for a drop shot and was distracted by a fan shouting at him.

Djokovic approached umpire Nico Helwerth and asked him to declare ‘hindrance’ and replay the point. 

‘He was in the first row and started at the beginning of the match. He went on several times, which was fine, he was supporting my opponent, but I thought this was a bit of a hindrance as he was so close and as I was about to hit the ball he was shouting,’ explained Djokovic.

‘So that’s what I asked the umpire, but he explained he cannot call that a hindrance. That’s it. Very simple.’

From there Djokovic won 13 of the final 16 games. He produced some superb touch play, including one winner around the net that skimmed an inch or so above the clay.

Djokovic said he is 'very conscious of the present moment', and hopes to improve throughout

Djokovic said he is ‘very conscious of the present moment’, and hopes to improve throughout

‘I’m being very conscious of the present moment and what needs to be done on a daily basis to build my form as the tournament progresses and then, hopefully, peak at the right time when it matters the most,’ he said ominously.

Djokovic plays the winner of Thursday night’s evening session between France’s Gael Monfils and Italian No 30 seed Lorenzo Musetti next.

French OpenNovak Djokovic