In a career already full of milestones, Novak Djokovic passed another one in reaching the third round of the French Open: His young son watched him play for the first time.
Djokovic cruised into the last 32 for the 14th successive year, admitting it had been an emotional day playing for the first time in front of his four-year-old Stefan.
Djokovic, bidding to become just the second man to hold all four Slams at the same time twice, cruised to a 6-1 6-4 6-3 win over Swiss lucky loser Henri Laaksonen with Stefan watching from the player’s box on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
“It’s a very special day for me as it’s the first time in my life that I have played in front of my son,” said the 32-year-old Serb after a 23rd straight win at the Slams.
“He showed incredible patience to sit there for an hour and a half. Usually, he’s not that patient with tennis.”
Stefan joined in the celebrations on centre court when Djokovic claimed a fourth Wimbledon title last July, but he was banned from watching the match because children under the age of five are not permitted into show courts by the All England Club.
He will still be a few months short of his fifth birthday at this year’s tournament.
Djokovic, who also has an 18-month-old daughter, Tara, revealed his son had been the major factor driving him during his comeback from an injury-riddled 2018.
“Actually, I didn’t talk about it but it was one of, if not the biggest, motivation I’ve had for this Wimbledon this year,” he said, after winning Wimbledon.
“I was visualising, imagining this moment of him coming to the stands, cherishing this moment with my wife and me and everyone. It’s hard to describe.
“I never had him in the box watching the tennis match. I was hoping that Wimbledon can be that tournament because he’s big enough now I think to stay quiet maybe for 30 minutes or so
“There are special rules here so we have to respect them.
“Roger (Federer) had his girls and his boys as well, I think, last year and the years that he won at the trophy ceremony, so I was hoping I can have Stefan, too.”
“He was not there til the very moment when I was walking to get an interview. He walked in. So that was just a moment that I will carry inside of my heart forever.”
Djokovic goes on to face Italian qualifier Salvatore Caruso, ranked 147, for a place in the last 16 in Paris.
Thursday was a lot more enjoyable for Djokovic than his last visit to Court Suzanne Lenglen in 2018 when he was knocked out in the quarter-finals by Marco Cecchinato.