Novak Djokovic off the mark in Paris as he counters Maxime Cressy’s ‘almost ancient style’

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic celebrating from PA

Novak Djokovic had his work cut out for him early on against Maxime Cressy at the Paris Masters as he tried to come to terms with the American’s unique style, but once he found his rhythm he was unstoppable.

The 21-time Grand Slam winner started his title defence in Paris Bercy on the back of three consecutive titles, although the last of those trophies came three weeks ago at the Astana Open.

And it took him a while to settle and come up with a good strategy against Cressy as the first set went to a tie-breaker, but he eventually ran out with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 win.

Cressy faced three break points in game eight, but his booming serve got him out of trouble as it went to a tie-breaker. Djokovic, though, took charge and wrapped up the set at the first time of asking.

The world No 34 saved another break point in the opening game of the second set, but Djokovic gradually started to figure out his serve and volley game and broke in game nine before serving it out.

“It was very intense, just a lot of pressure,” the sixth seed said. “When you play someone that serves this well — first and second serve — you don’t have much room to relax and maybe play kind of a softer few games. You just have to be on your toes all the time. Credit to him for serving big in some big moments. I had my chances [in the] first set to break him, second as well.

He added: “A break came at the right time, perfect time actually. I was very pleased with the way I held my serve, didn’t face a break point.”

Djokovic was also impressed with Cressy’s serve and volley tactics, saying he “respected” the “almost ancient style”.

“It does change a lot because not only do you have to get the return back, but you hav to put it under his feet, which is very difficult to do,” he said. “It’s nice to see someone that comes in after fist and second serve.

“It just gives a different look from the tennis fans’ point of view. I appreciate that, I respect that. It takes courage to play with this modern tennis nowadays this kind of style that is almost an ancient style. You don’t have many players that do that. Possibly he’s the only one at the top.”

The Serbian will face either Karen Khachanov or Marc-Andrea Hüsler in the third round.

In first-round action, British No 2 Dan Evans earned a second-round clash against fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas after defeating American Brandon Nakashima 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 while fellow Brit Jack Draper was a 6-4, 6-4 winner over Arthur Rinderknech to set up a match against 16th seed Frances Tiafoe.

In quarter one of the top half of the draw, Andrey Rublev claimed a solid 6-2, 6-3 win over John Isner in the second round while Grigor Dimitrov defeated Botic van de Zandschulp 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5) to set up a clash against Fabio Fognini.

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