Djokovic continues to bury foes

PARIS -- Novak Djokovic continues to eliminate opponents as he chases his fourth consecutive major. On Friday, it was Frenchman Nicolas Devilder's turn.

Three years ago, an ankle injury struck the diminutive lefty when his career was surging to a high ranking of No. 60. Since the start of 2010, he's never reclaimed such a high spot, with his ranking dipping far down into the 600s. Now 32, Devilder needed a wild card simply to land in qualifying.

Currently ranked No. 286, he reached the third round of a major for the first time in his career only to face No. 1 Djokovic. Devilder remained positive about the match, which took place about a mile from where he resides. "The adventure continues, and it's the cherry on the cake," Devilder said.

Predictably, Devilder lost in straight sets Friday, falling 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 on Suzanne Lenglen. Djokovic moved within four matches of becoming the first man in more than 40 years to hold all four majors at once.

So far, Djokovic is making every move he can to reach his goal.

Don't read too much into the mini-lapses

Djokovic labored in the first set against Potito Starace in the first round, and he was behind a break to Blaz Kavcic in the second set of their second-round clash.

A sign of trouble? Not really.

Whether it's down to breathing issues, his contact lenses, fatigue or simply a temporary loss of form, Djokovic can periodically appear lost in matches.

But he usually raises his game when it matters. When Djokovic knew fading light could be an issue Friday, he promptly dispatched Devilder in 1 hour, 44 minutes. A large chunk of that was the first game, which stretched to nine minutes.

Djokovic hasn't dropped a set so far -- unlike his main rivals, Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych.

C'est formidable, Novak

Djokovic is funny and charming. Yet last year at Roland Garros, a majority of the crowd on Philippe Chatrier rooted for Federer in what turned out to be a Davis Cup-like atmosphere.

This year, Djokovic addressed the public in French in a genius move to increase fan support. But if he takes on Fed in the semis?

Well, at least his fellow Serbs will be supporting Djokovic.

A break in the next rounds?

Spaniard Fernando Verdasco performed brilliantly on clay in 2010 and defeated Djokovic in their two clay encounters that season. The pair have not played since Djokovic began his run at the majors. Still, Verdasco could have been a dangerous floater in Djokovic's side of the draw.

Djokovic, then, will probably be content to face Italian Andreas Seppi in the fourth round Sunday and not Verdasco, who lost to Seppi in five sets. As much as the likable Seppi has improved -- he won in Belgrade and had an inspiring run to the quarterfinals in Rome -- he lacks the weapons to eliminate Djokovic. Seppi has never beaten Djokovic -- on clay or off -- in seven matches.

Should Djokovic advance, he'll play either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. He'd likely prefer French native Tsonga. Wawrinka, like Verdasco, has a big game, and has troubled Djokovic in past matches, although the Serb has a nine-match winning streak in their head-to-heads.

But in their one meeting this year, Djokovic dropped Tsonga on the clay of Rome, 7-5, 6-1.