PARIS – Novak Djokovic's backhand clipped the net and landed wide, so he shook his head. That was it.
Later, a too-soft drop shot found the white tape and bounced back on his own side, finally ceding a game in a dominant debut performance at the 2020 French Open. Djokovic simply bowed and walked to the sideline.
And when he flubbed yet another drop shot — he kept using them on the slow red clay during a 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 victory over 80th-ranked Mikael Ymer — and got broken Tuesday, Djokovic pulled an extra tennis ball out of his pocket and merely gave it a gentle tap with his racket strings.
The ball landed right behind him, safely in the middle of the court.
Playing his first Grand Slam match since his U.S. Open disqualification for smacking a ball after dropping a game and accidentally striking a line judge's throat, Djokovic never really gave himself reason for histrionics or shouts of dismay or displays of anger.
"I just felt very suffocated out there. It's just corner, corner; very, very rarely miss. His position is unreal in the court," Ymer said.
"You know how the snake kills its prey?" Ymer said, pantomiming a boa constrictor's attack by bringing his arms around and putting his hands together. "That's a little bit how I felt being out there."
Djokovic, for his part, said that what happened in Flushing Meadows was of no concern to him, either, as he began his pursuit of a second title at Roland Garros and 18th Grand Slam trophy overall.
"I have not had any traces of New York in my mind. I'm over it. Honestly forgot about it. I'm not thinking about it," the No. 1 seed said after improving to 32-1 in 2020, the only blemish being that fourth-round default this month.
"Winning a 6-love first set is the best possible way to start a Grand Slam," he said. "This is exactly what my intentions will be — trying to get off the blocks very strong, with a good intensity, obviously, because players in the early rounds have nothing to lose."
Maybe that's why 17-year-old Clara Tauson was able to earn her first tour-level victory by knocking off U.S. Open semifinalist and No. 21 seed Jennifer Brady 6-4, 3-6, 9-7. Or why No. 19 Alison Riske and No. 26 Donna Vekic also lost.
Marcus Giron beat Quentin Halys 7-5, 3-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 8-6 to become the eighth U.S. man to reach the second round.
That's the most in Paris since nine got that far in 1996. Last year? One did.