PARIS—Novak Djokovic extended his perfect season right into the French Open, beating Thiemo de Bakker 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 Monday in the first round.
The second-seeded Serb improved his 2011 record to 38-0 — and stretched his winning streak to 40 — on the second day of the tournament at Roland Garros. And he barely broke a sweat doing it, breaking his Dutch opponent six times.
Djokovic walked out onto center court as the co-favorite after beating Rafael Nadal in two clay-court finals leading up to the French Open. He could only meet Nadal in the final at Roland Garros, and if he does he will be assured of taking over the No. 1 ranking from the Spaniard regardless of that result.
Djokovic needs five more wins to break John McEnroe’s Open era record of 42 for the best unbeaten start, and a sixth victory will make him the first man to win the Australian and French Opens back-to-back since Jim Courier in 1992.
Nadal, who is looking for his sixth French Open title, doesn’t get on court until Tuesday, but 2009 champion Roger Federer is scheduled to play Feliciano Lopez of Spain later Monday.
Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki will also play on the second day of the tournament. The Dane was to face 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan.
In the opening match on center court, defending champion Francesca Schiavone bounced back to her winning ways by beating Melanie Oudin of the United States 6-2, 6-0.
Schiavone, who last year became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title, won four straight games in the first set after being broken early by her 19-year-old American opponent. The fifth-seeded Schiavone, who had 25 winners to Oudin’s six, then won seven straight games to reach the second round.
“I’m still shaking a little bit,” Schiavone said of playing on Court Philippe Chatrier for the first time as defending champion. “The court is perfect. Everything is going around you and it’s like — you know when you go home and your mom does everything for you and you feel comfortable?”
Last week, Schiavone had her best result of the season, reaching the semifinals at the Brussels Open.
No. 26 Nadia Petrova of Russia, No. 28 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and No. 30 Roberta Vinci of Italy also advanced. In the men’s draw, No. 12 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia beat Go Soeda of Japan 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 and No. 15 Viktor Troicki of Serbia defeated Julian Reister of Germany 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
The French Open is the only one of the four Grand Slam tournaments to begin on Sunday, and not everyone likes it all that much.
“It’s very weird playing on Sunday,” said 13th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion who reached the second round by beating Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-3 on Day 1.
“For me, it’s the first time. But I believe it’s more money to Grand Slam so it’s more spectators, probably.”
Besides Kuznetsova, 2010 finalist Sam Stosur advanced on a warm day in Paris. The eighth-seeded Australian was broken in the opening game but then had little trouble beating Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-3.
Stosur also thought it was strange to start on Sunday.
“It’s just different,” Stosur said. “You’ve got an extra day, but I think with all the others not doing it, it definitely is a bit of, not a shock, but it’s just weird knowing that, OK, my tournament starts on Sunday and then I think you get two days off now.”