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Ace-hitting Bedene serves up clash with Djokovic at French Open

By Paul Newman

Published 27/05/2016

Big moment: Aljaz Bedene celebrates his second round win at Roland Garros
Big moment: Aljaz Bedene celebrates his second round win at Roland Garros

The chart detailing the number of aces hit here at the French Open has some familiar names at the top - until you get to the third player on the list.

Ivo Karlovic and John Isner lead the way, but in third place is Aljaz Bedene.

The 26-year-old Briton's tally of 36 aces is one of the reasons why he is through to the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time of his career.

Nevertheless, Bedene will need much more than serving firepower if he is to make further progress in the tournament. After his battling 7-6, 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta, Bedene will take on the world No 1, Novak Djokovic, who beat Belgium's Steve Darcis 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

Bedene's progress here has come after a difficult period for the world No 66, who has slipped 21 places from his ranking position at the start of the year.

He thinks the stress that has come from his so far unsuccessful attempt to become available to play for Britain in the Davis Cup has affected him physically and contributed to two mid-match retirements in recent months.

When he arrived here Bedene had won only six of the 17 tour-level matches he had played this year, but now he has become the first British man other than Andy Murray to reach the third round at Roland Garros since Tim Henman in 2004.

"I was playing well today. I just feel good on the court, which I think is the most important thing," said Bedene.

"He wasn't an easy opponent and I think I played really well in the first two sets. I played a few sloppy games in the third and fourth sets which brought it to the fifth, but the fifth was good as well."

Djokovic has yet to drop a set here this year, though the world No 1 did not have things all his way against Darcis.

Even in the third set the Belgian retrieved an early break of serve before Djokovic closed out victory.

"There were things that I definitely didn't like in my game today," Djokovic said.

"I made too many unforced errors from the first or second shot in the rally."

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