Novak Djokovic ends Aljaz Bedene's French Open challenge

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Football News

Aljaz Bedene's debut centre stage at the French Open ended in predictable fashion with defeat by Novak Djokovic in the Paris gloaming.

The British number two was playing in the third round of a grand slam for the first time and gave a very creditable display against the world's best.

Bedene kept Djokovic slugging away for two hours and two minutes before going down 6-2 6-3 6-3, with the match finishing at 8.28BST.

The main question before the players took to Court Philippe Chatrier at 7.15 was whether there would be enough light for the match to finish.

Torrential rain caused play to be delayed by two-and-a-half hours earlier in the day.

The schedule was rearranged, with the match set to be moved to Suzanne Lenglen, only for it to move back to Chatrier after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's premature retirement.

What was certain was that Djokovic did not want to have to complete the match on Sunday, particularly considering the bad forecast.

Bedene began well but his best groundstrokes were all returned with interest and his serve met the world's best returner.

The 26-year-old went into the match having served more aces than anyone except Ivo Karlovic and John Isner - but he could manage only eight here.

Djokovic quickly opened up a 3-0 lead and shrugged off a time violation in the seventh game to clinch the opening set.

Bedene's level dipped in the middle of the second set as Djokovic reeled off four games in a row, the British player hurling his racket to the clay in disgust.

But he fought to retrieve one of the breaks and then saved four set points on his own serve before Djokovic finished it off.

Bedene is without a coach but is being helped by Davis Cup captain Leon Smith - and the Scot would have been proud of the fighting spirit shown by his man.

With darkness falling, Bedene threw caution to the wind and the pop on his shots began to force Djokovic into errors.

Having been 2-0 up and surely confident of finishing the match off, Djokovic saw his lead disappear, but in the end there was just enough light for him to finish the job and keep his title hopes on track.

With Rafael Nadal removed from his path through injury, the Serbian is a hotter favourite than ever to win at Roland Garros for the first time.

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