PARIS: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic moved effortlessly closer to a first French Open crown on Thursday (Friday in Manila) while 2011 women’s champion Li Na crashed out at a rain-ravaged Roland Garros.
Four rain stoppages, and then a final call-off, meant that there was only around five hours of play on a frustrating day which left women’s champion Maria Sharapova stranded in her second round match.
But top-seeded Djokovic wasted no time in setting up a mouth-watering clash with Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov for a last-16 place.
The Serb, bidding to win a first French Open, and become just the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam, eased past Argentina’s world 83 Guido Pella, 6-2, 6-0, 6-2.
Dimitrov, the 26th seed, will be playing in the last 32 of a major for the first time after breezing past French wildcard Lucas Pouille, the world number 324, in straight sets 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.
Djokovic lost to Dimitrov in the Madrid Masters second round earlier this month.
“Even though his style of game could be better on the hard court or faster surfaces, he’s showing that he can play equally well on clay,” said Djokovic.
Chinese star Li went down 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to brash American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in what was the 31-year-old’s earliest defeat at the tournament in seven appearances.
As Mattek-Sands, the world number 67, looked forward to a third round match-up with Argentine qualifier Paula Ormaechea, Li was left surveying the wreckage of a second successive Roland Garros failure.
Twelve months ago, she went out in the last 16 to Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, who herself was beaten by Ormaechea on Thursday.