No. 1 Djokovic eases into 3rd round; Zverev rallies

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PARIS — Novak Djokovic eased into the third round of his French Open title defense with a straight-set victory over Alex Molcan.

The top-ranked Djokovic defeated the 24-year-old Slovakian 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (4) at Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Molcan was able to push Djokovic to a third-set tiebreaker but threw his racket down in frustration after hitting the ball into the net – his 34th unforced error – to fall behind 6-3 before Djokovic closed it out.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion next faces 32-year-old Slovenian Aljaz Bedene.

Alexander Zverev had to rally from two sets down and save a match point to reach the third round Roland Garros.

The German overcame Argentina’s Sebastian Baez 2-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-5.

That’s the good news for the No. 3 seed.

The bad news is Baez was making his French Open debut, and Zverev’s half of the draw includes Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz.

Zverev had trouble with the 21-year-old Baez’s serve but got his return game in order in the third set.

Zverev saved a match point before holding for 5-5 in the decider and then broke Baez before serving out the match.

The last time Zverev put himself in a two-set hole at Roland Garros it didn’t end as well. He battled back in the semifinals last June against Stefanos Tsitsipas but lost in five sets.

Alcaraz loses to Goffin in 1st match as No. 1

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.

The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.

“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”

Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.

“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”

Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.

Kasatkina knocks out Raducanu at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.

Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.