|Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns the ball to Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands during the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris May 23, 2011. REUTERS/Thierry Roge
PARIS, France - Serbian star Novak Djokovic earned his 38th win in a row to start the 2011 season with a straight-set triumph in the first round of the French Open. Former No. 1 Roger Federer joined Djokovic in the round of 64 with a victory of his own on Monday.
The second-seeded Djokovic had little trouble in a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker. Djokovic has been the most dominant player in tennis this year, as he began the campaign with a title at the Australian Open and has followed it up with wins in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Belgrade, Madrid and Rome.
Four of those championships have come with finals victories against top-ranked Rafael Nadal, including Masters crowns on the Spaniard's favored clay surface at Madrid and Rome. Nadal is the top seed in Paris and has won the title at Roland Garros five times in the past six years.
Djokovic is also closing in on the best start to a calendar year in tennis history, as John McEnroe began 1984 with 42 straight match victories. The Serbian slugger has won his last 40 matches overall, dating back to last year.
A third-seeded Federer, meanwhile, handled Spanish lefthander Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) in just under two hours. The Swiss icon tallied a pair of breaks, while Lopez was unable to break Federer's quality serve en route to defeat.
The men's all-time Grand Slam titles leader Federer has reached four of the last five French Open finals. He captured his lone Roland Garros championship here in 2009 and gave way to his great rival Nadal in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 title tilts.
The 29-year-old Federer hasn't won a major event since last year's Aussie Open.
World No. 6 Tomas Berdych suffered a big first-round upset when he succumbed to French crowd favorite Stephane Robert 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 9-7. Berdych swatted 16 aces, but had his serve broken a whopping seven times. Robert recorded 22 more winners (62-40) in the Day-2 stunner.
Berdych soared all the way into the semifinals here a year ago and was last year's Wimbledon runner-up to the great Nadal. The big Czech was an Aussie Open quarterfinalist back in January.
The 31-year-old qualifier Robert captured his first-ever five-set win on Monday.
Twelfth-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny, a quarterfinalist at Roland Garros last year, posted a 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 win over Japan's Go Soeda, while 15th- seeded Serb Viktor Troicki cruised past Germany's Julian Reister 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Former U.S. Open champ Juan Martin del Potro, seeded 25th at this French fortnight, overcame 6-foot-10 Croat Ivo Karlovic 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. The former world No. 4 del Potro returned to action Monday for the first time in three weeks, as the big Argentine was sidelined by a hip injury.
The 2009 U.S. Open champ del Potro missed last year's French Open due to a wrist injury that forced him to miss most of the 2010 season.