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Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer win

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PARIS -- Novak Djokovic's perfect season is still intact and his clay-court form still looks devastating after he reached the third round of the French Open when Victor Hanescu retired Wednesday because of injury.

The second-seeded Serb, who joined 2009 champion Roger Federer in the third round at Roland Garros, improved to 39-0 in 2011 after Hanescu retired while trailing 6-4, 6-1, 2-3. Djokovic has won 41 straight matches dating to last year's Davis Cup final.

"I keep on thinking only about the winning. I'm taking one match at a time," Djokovic said. "Really, I'm not thinking about when this streak -- this amazing streak -- will end. So I guess that's the right mental approach."

Asked what he needs to do to continue his current run, Djokovic replied: "Stay focused, dedicated, motivated. I am still only 24. I have many more years to come. It's been the best five, six months of my career. And I'm very happy with the way I'm playing."

As well he should be.

Only three men in the Open era won more matches in a row, topped by Guillermo Vilas' 46 in 1977. And only one started a season better: John McEnroe began 42-0 in 1984.

If he makes the final, Djokovic will be assured of the No. 1 ranking in men's tennis for the first time.

No. 7 David Ferrer of Spain, No. 9 Gael Monfils of France and former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro also made it through.

Djokovic, who won three clay-court tournaments leading up to Roland Garros and beat top-ranked Rafael Nadal in two of them, won seven straight games at one point and didn't face any trouble from his Romanian opponent.

Hanescu called for a trainer to look at his left leg after losing the second set. The trainer came back out after Hanescu held to make it 3-2 in the third.

Djokovic then won the next two points before Hanescu called it quits.

In the next round, Djokovic will face del Potro, who defeated Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

"Well, it's a big challenge for both of us," Djokovic said. "He's a fantastic player who always deserved to be in the top five in the world, and I'm sure he's going to come back very quickly there, because he has amazing groundstrokes and a big serve."

Del Potro missed most of last season after having surgery on his right wrist and more recently has been bothered by a bad hip.

"Knowing that Djokovic is the best player this season, that he's trying to beat a record, is one thing," said the 6-foot-6, big-hitting del Potro, who lost all three past meetings with Djokovic, "but I need to stop thinking about it to avoid any additional pressure."

The two are buddies and were prompted at their news conferences to discuss the idea of making things more interesting by putting a friendly wager on the line.

Del Potro's response, delivered with a wink: "Of course not. He's much richer than I am."

Djokovic laughed when told about that.

"I will accept any bet. Why not? We can have fun," Djokovic said. "If the bet is a dinner, I will do my best to earn the dinner."

Djokovic, who won the Australian Open in 2008 and this January, and del Potro are the only men other than Federer (12) and Nadal (nine) to collect any of the most recent 24 Grand Slam titles.

Federer defeated French wild card Maxime Teixeira 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 to reach the third round. Teixeira is 1-1 at the French Open after winning his first tour-level match on Sunday.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion, despite being broken early in the match, made it look easy by winning 13 straight games from the first set to the third.

"He fought hard, and afterwards he was trying to get the best score," Federer said of his 22-year-old opponent. "The score was balanced for 1½ sets, but even then he fought hard."

Federer didn't face a single break point in his opening match, and Teixeira managed only one on Wednesday -- and he converted it. After the Frenchman held to go to 3-3, Federer dominated and didn't lose another game until Teixeira made it 4-1 in the third set.

"During 1½ sets you're really well focused, and after this you can relax a little at the end of the match. And it was a bit simpler as well at the end," Federer said. "Now I'm very happy with these types of matches. I can practice more and so on, but now I'm really in the tournament, which is a good thing."

Teixeira had beaten another French wild card, Vincent Millot, in the first round.

"I gave it all. I did what I could," Teixeira said. "To play against Roger is an incredible experience. I'll never forget it and it will be great memories."

Federer knows what it's like to be the inexperienced kid across the net from one of the game's greats. Back on Oct. 6, 1998, Federer played his sixth career match against Andre Agassi at Basel, Switzerland, and lost 6-3, 6-2.

"You know, on the one hand, that you can't win," said Federer, who went on a 41-match unbeaten run from August 2006 to March 2007. "And if you win, it's like a miracle."

Federer will face 29th-seeded Janko Tipsarevic, who beat Pere Riba of Spain 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. Tipsarevic took Federer to five sets in the third round of the 2008 Australian Open, eventually losing 10-8.

"I think he's a dangerous player on the big courts against the big players. He played really well against these players, so let's be careful," Federer said. "Let's be ready in advance, because he can vary his game on hard courts, on clay as well. He can do all sorts of things."

Federer's record of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals ended with a loss in the French Open quarterfinals a year ago. If he makes it to the semifinals this time, he could meet Djokovic.

"He has had a lot of streaks and a lot of records that he's broken. I mean, look, he has won the most Grand Slams. He's the most successful tennis player ever. There is not much to say about that," said Djokovic, who beat Federer in the semifinals at the last two major tournaments. "I mean, it's just amazing what he has done throughout his career."

Ferrer advanced by stopping Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. The Spaniard has twice reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, in 2005 and '08.

No. 12 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, No. 13 Richard Gasquet of France, No. 14 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, No. 17 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, No. 23 Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil, No. 30 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain and No. 31 Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine also advanced.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.