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Djokovic nonchalant over streak

PARIS — Don't say a word. Novak Djokovic is perfect in 2011, and superstition demands silence, lest he be jinxed.

Djokovic himself insists he isn't keeping tabs on his unbeaten run, which reached 38-0 this season, and 40 in a row dating to December, thanks to a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 win over Thiemo de Bakker in the first round of the French Open on Monday.

"I'm not counting," the second-seeded Djokovic said with a smile.

"I'm not trying to think about the streak that I have," he added, "even though it's definitely something that makes me proud."

Others certainly are thinking about it. Indeed, it's the talk of the year's second Grand Slam tournament. Straight-set victories at Roland Garros by other top players such as Roger Federer, top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki or defending champion Francesca Schiavone — even 2010 semifinalist Tomas Berdych's surprising five-set loss to a French qualifier — didn't merit as much attention as Djokovic did.

The Serb, who won his second Australian Open title in January, is closing in on the Open era record for best start to a tennis season by a man, John McEnroe's 42-0 in 1984. He's also the sixth man in the Open era to win 40 matches in a row; Guillermo Vilas set the high of 46 in 1977.

But Djokovic's pals on tour aren't exactly making a big deal about it at the moment.

"In the beginning — I know him very well — I'd kind of joke, 'Hey, let someone else win.' … Now you almost stay away. It's almost like a pitcher going for a no-hitter," said the highest-seeded American, No. 10 Mardy Fish, who beat Ricardo Mello 6-2, 6-7 (11-13), 6-2, 6-4.

"I don't want to say anything about it," Tampa's Fish explained. "I don't want to be the guy that says, 'Hey, by the way, you're 38-0,' or whatever he is. 'Don't lose.' I don't want to be that guy and then have him lose."

On April 1, Djokovic went to 23-0 this season by beating Fish in the semifinals in Key Biscayne.

Djokovic defeated No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal in the final there, part of a 7-0 mark against him and Federer in 2011. Victories over Nadal on clay at Madrid and Rome this month have many believing Djokovic could become the first man to win the Australian and French Open in the same year since Jim Courier in 1992.

Former world No. 2 Tommy Haas, playing his first match since hip surgery in February 2010, lost 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 to Marsel Ilhan.

TEMPER, TEMPER!: French player Michael Llodra likened the court to an Arab marketplace after receiving a warning from Moroccan chair umpire Mohamed El Jennati for throwing a ball at a female security guard in the stands.

Upset that the guard was distracting him, the 22nd-seeded Llodra lost his cool during the second set of his first-round loss to qualifier Steve Darcis. TV footage of the incident showed Llodra comparing the atmosphere on the court to a "souq," a commercial quarter in Arab cities.

"We are not in a souq. We are not selling carpets in a market," Llodra told the umpire after receiving his warning.

Llodra, who lost 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 3-6, 3-6, said the umpire should not have warned him for the incident and should have instead called security or told the female guard to stop moving.

>>Fast Facts

French Open

When/where: Through June 5; Roland Garros, Paris

Today's top matches

Men: No. 1 Rafael Nadal vs. John Isner; No. 4 Andy Murray vs. Eric Prodon; No. 5 Robin Soderling vs. Benjamin Becker

Women: No. 2 Kim Clijsters vs. Anastasiya Yakimova; No. 4 Victoria Azarenka vs. Andrea Hlavackova; No. 6 Li Na vs. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova; No. 7 Maria Sharapova vs. Mirjana Lucic

TV: 5 a.m. today and Wednesday, Tennis; noon today, ESPN2, ESPND

Djokovic nonchalant over streak 05/23/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 23, 2011 8:58pm]
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