Menacing Novak Djokovic sends out powerful warning at French Open

Novak Djokovic thanks the crowd

It was as if Novak Djokovic’s frustrations from the first half of 2022 were all unloaded on poor Yoshihito Nishioka as he got his defence of the title underway in Paris.

Djokovic dropped just four games on his way into the second round, as the Serbian beat Japan’s Nishioka 6-3 6-1 6-0 in a one-sided first night match of the tournament.

Looking mean, clinical and in no mood to show any symapthy to his opponent from the off, this was a world No 1 intent on sending out a statement to his rivals – he means business in his first major even of this confusing year.

After missing the Australian Open over his Covid-19 vaccine status and with doubts over whether he will be allowed to play at the US Open later this year for the same reason, Djokovic is determined to make the most of these next few weeks that will include the French Open and Wimbledon.

And on the evidence of his polished first round win against Nishioka, Djokovic will take some stopping in Paris.

“His performance was one thing, his ball striking, the consistency on serve, but I was surprised by his attitude, he was so pumped up,” said former British No. 1 Henman on Eurosport.

“There was a lot of fist pumping, the screaming and shouting out, for a first-round match at a Grand Slam, for someone who has won 20 of them, is that a reflection of what happened in Australia where he didn’t get the opportunity? And this is his next opportunity to get to 21 and he is so pumped up.

“You saw from the word go he was so motivated, focused and fired up, ready to get the job done and that’s what he did. He is trending in the right direction.

“He is maybe a little bit underdone but getting the victory in Rome and to come here and make a little bit of a statement.

“Some of the other top players got off to good starts and Djokovic would have been aware of that, you saw all aspects of his game, his movement, his game, his touch, it really was a complete performance. He steamrolled Nishioka.”