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Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Novak Djokovic wins; Tomic retires

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PARIS -- Novak Djokovic does not try to hide his ambitions. He makes perfectly clear that he wants to win a French Open title more than anything.

Embarking on a bid to complete a career Grand Slam and fill the only glaring hole on his résumé, the top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Djokovic pulled out a tight first set en route to a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-5 victory Tuesday in the first round against David Goffin, a Belgian who was the surprise of Roland Garros a year ago.

The key moment came in the first-set tiebreaker, with the 58th-ranked Goffin serving at 5-all. After he faulted once, a fan yelled, "Allez, David!" The 22-year-old Goffin then proceeded to miss his second serve, too, for a double-fault that gave Djokovic a set point.

Goffin's backhand into the net gave the set to Djokovic, who had won fewer total points until then (39-36).

From then on, though, there were not too many hiccups for Djokovic, although he did get broken at love by Goffin, evening the second set at 4-all. Djokovic broke right back, and was on his way.

In 2012, Goffin got into the French Open field as a "lucky loser" -- someone who loses in qualifying but is put in the main draw because another player withdrew -- and made it all the way to the fourth round. That's when he got to face Roger Federer, Goffin's idol, and even took a set off the owner of the most career major titles before he lost the match.

Djokovic, meanwhile, lost to seven-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal in the final a year ago in Paris. That ended Djokovic's 27-match Grand Slam winning streak and with it, his attempt to earn a fourth consecutive major championship.

Now Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open four times, and the U.S. Open and Wimbledon once each, would love to pick up his first trophy at Roland Garros to make a full set.

"This is the tournament that is the No. 1 priority of my year, of my season," the Serb said on the eve of the French Open. "This is where I want to win, and I'm going to go for it. I think my game is there, and I'm very, very motivated."

On Tuesday, he faced a total of only two break points, saving one, while converting 3 of 11 chances against Goffin, who displayed a beautiful touch at the net. Goffin was unafraid to move forward, something seen less and less these days, particularly on red clay.

As Goffin walked off toward the locker room after the match ended, Djokovic stopped what he was doing to join the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd in applauding.

Then it was Djokovic's turn to speak French to the fans during an interview, a post-match ritual that's become de rigueur this week. Serena Williams and Nadal did it, too (as did Federer, who has for years).

"It was a good match. I hope you enjoyed it," Djokovic said. "It was not easy, because David is a good player with a lot of talent and a lot of aggressiveness on the court."

Also Tuesday, Australian Bernard Tomic, whose father, John, was banned from attending the French Open because of an assault investigation, retired from his first-round match in the third set.

The 61st-ranked Tomic was treated for a right hamstring problem in the first set but played on until stopping while trailing 7-5, 7-6 (8), 2-1 against Victor Hanescu of Romania.

Tomic's father, John, is due in court in Madrid in October. He is accused of head-butting Bernard's hitting partner, Thomas Drouet.

"He's here right now in Paris, so, you know, he's still working with me, he's still my dad, he's still my coach," the 20-year-old Tomic said Tuesday. "And, you know, I love him a lot."

The ATP and International Tennis Federation barred John Tomic from receiving credentials for tournaments. The French tennis federation announced they would not allow him onto the grounds of their event, even as a paying spectator.

John Tomic had not been seen at the Roland Garros complex Tuesday, French federation spokesman Christophe Proust said.

"We've taken maximum precautions not to let him in," Proust said, adding that the younger Tomic "was playing on Court No. 6, which is a small court, so it's easy to see who's in the stands."

Three other men retired during matches: No. 28 Florian Mayer (right thigh), Alejandro Falla (stomach problems), and Simone Bolelli (right wrist).

In other men's action Tuesday, American Jack Sock, a 20-year-old qualifier ranked 118th, made a successful Roland Garros debut by beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-2, 7-5. Sock wore initials on his shoes in honor of two friends who died recently in separate car crashes.

"Kind of hits you out of nowhere," he said. "I was definitely thinking of them out there."

No. 12 Tommy Haas, meanwhile, earned his first Grand Slam victory since turning 35, beating Guillaume Rufin 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-3.

No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka, and Philipp Kohlschreiber also advanced.

A teen also had his turn -- Lucas Pouille, a 19-year-old wild card from France, defeated American Alex Kuznetsov 6-1, 7-6 (2), 6-2.

No. 26 Grigor Dimitrov advanced when Falla retired with indigestion trailing 6-4, 1-0.

If Dimitrov -- he and Maria Sharapova are an item, so he was asked Tuesday about dealing with paparazzi -- reaches the third round, he could face Djokovic. That would be an intriguing matchup, given that Dimitrov defeated Djokovic on clay at Madrid three weeks ago.

"This is the kind of matches I'd always want to play in," Dimitrov said. "I feel good on the big courts and playing against good players."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.