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Djoko wishes rival Murray all the best in fitness fight


By Andy Sims

Novak Djokovic has spoken to Andy Murray to wish him well in his battle to return to fitness.

Murray, who had hip surgery in January, has not played a competitive match since Wimbledon last year but hopes to return in time for this year's tournament at SW19.

Djokovic recently had an operation on his elbow in an attempt to cure a problem which has troubled him for the past two years, and is now through to the third round of the French Open without losing a set.

The Serbian, who has slipped out of the world's top 20 for the first time since he was a teenager due to his spell out injured, knows just how two-time Wimbledon champion Murray is feeling.

"We spoke recently because we are part of the player council, so we had a meeting and he was on the conference call," said Djokovic. "I can only imagine how difficult it is for him to deal with the circumstances of injury.

"That's something I can relate to. I have had quite a similar situation, although his injury takes more time.

"Hopefully we can see him playing on grass, because that's where he wants to play."

Djokovic set up a third-round meeting with 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut after a 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-4 victory over another Spaniard, Jaume Munar.

Cameron Norrie, meanwhile, prolonged his French Open adventure by another day at least after pinching a set.

The British No.3 looked in danger of being swept aside in the second round by French 16th seed Lucas Pouille.

Norrie trailed by two sets, with Pouille looking as though he desperately wanted the match done and dusted before the light failed - the players had only walked on to Court Philippe Chatrier at 7.50pm.

But perhaps in his haste to get the job done Pouille began to tighten, and Norrie broke in the final game of the third set to trail 2-6 4-6 6-4 when they were brought off in near darkness at 9.43pm.

Second seed Alexander Zverev was almost packing his bags too.

The 21-year-old German was trailing two sets to one, and playing dreadfully, against Serbia's Dusan Lajovic but came back to win 2-6 7-5 4-6 6-1 6-2.

Fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov was also taken the distance by American Jared Donaldson who, tiring during a marathon final set, twice served underarm, winning a game point with the first.

A gruelling showdown lasting four and a quarter hours was eventually won by Bulgarian Dimitrov, 10-8 in the fifth.

In a match held over from Tuesday, Czech Tomas Berdych, the 17th seed, was a first-round casualty after he was beaten by France's Jeremy Chardy in five sets.

Meanwhile, Marco Trungelliti's epic journey came to an end in the second round.

The Argentinian became the unlikely darling of Roland Garros after driving for 10 hours from Barcelona to Paris, with his brother, mother and grandmother, on Sunday to register in time as a lucky loser.

Trungelliti, the World No.190, then stunned the tennis world by beating former top-20 player Bernard Tomic to net himself £69,000 in prize money.

However, the 28-year-old hit the skids in round two as he was beaten 6-1 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 by Italian Marco Cecchinato.

Top female seed Simona Halep recovered from a slow start to reach the second round.

The Romanian, a two-time runner-up at Roland Garros, found herself 5-0 down to American Alison Riske yesterday.

Riske went on to take the first set, but Halep woke up and dropped just two more games in registering a 2-6 6-1 6-1 victory.

Halep, still hunting a maiden Grand Slam title, will face another American, Taylor Townsend, in round two.

"I had a slow start because it's tough to start this tournament," she said. "It's a pleasure to come here and play, so I always feel nervous at the beginning.

"But it was good that I came back so strong."

In the second round, fourth seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine breezed past Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova 6-3 6-4.

Petra Kvitova, the Czech eighth seed, was untroubled by Lara Arruaberra of Spain in a 6-0 6-4 victory to take her into the third round, where she will face Estonia's Anett Kontaveit.

Australian Open champion and second seed Caroline Wozniacki cruised into the third round with a 6-1 6-0 victory over Spain's Georgina Garcia Perez.

Serena Williams wore her 'Black Panther' catsuit again as she teamed up with sister Venus to beat Japan's Shuko Aoyama and Miyu Kato 4-6 6-4 6-1 in the women's doubles first round.

Belfast Telegraph

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