Published: 12:03, May 23, 2024
Djokovic eases past Hanfmann in Geneva Open as he turns 37
By Reuters
Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts with his birthday cake after winning his ATP 250 Geneva Open tennis tournament single match against Germany's Yannick Hanfmann, in Geneva, on May 22, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

Novak Djokovic celebrated his 37th birthday with a 6-3 6-3 win over German Yannick Hanfmann on Wednesday in the second round of the Geneva Open.

The world number one, who accepted a late wildcard to compete at the ATP 250 tournament this week after a less than ideal run-up to next week's French Open, was stopped in his tracks by rain as he attempted to serve out the first set.

The Serb returned to court following the hour-long break to claim the first set with two aces in a row.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns a ball to Germany's Yannick Hanfmann during their second round match of the ATP 250 Geneva Open tennis tournament in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 22, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

But showing that he was still unable to shake off his recent struggles, Djokovic, who saved seven break points during the opening set, dropped serve early in the second to trail 3-0.

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The 24-time Grand Slam champion eventually recovered to reel off six games in a row to seal his 1,100th tour-level match win.

The Serb is only the third man to achieve this milestone behind Jimmy Connors' 1274 wins and Roger Federer's 1251.

"The key to win was the birthday, it probably wouldn't be the same if I didn't win," said Djokovic after organizers gave him a birthday cake.

Germany's Yannick Hanfmann returns the ball to Serbia's Novak Djokovic during their ATP 250 Geneva Open tennis tournament single match, in Geneva on May 22, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

"It's nice to be here in this tournament for the first time, with my family here coming to support. I'm getting some quality time on and off the court.

"Grateful to all the people that came today and thank you for singing happy birthday that really touched me."

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Djokovic requested the Geneva wildcard after he was hammered in Rome in the last 32 by little-known journeyman Alejandro Tabilo two days after a freak accident in which he was hit on the head by a fan's water bottle while signing autographs.