After such a lousy summer, Novak Djokovic has gotten his game into gear, thanks in most part to a cush few early rounds this week. The Serb, who made the US Open finals the last four years claiming it all in 2011, routed Paul-Henri Mathieu losing just four games 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.
“I wanted to get my job done as quick as possible,” Djokovic said. “I don’t feel like I need to play long matches to get into the groove. I mean, I feel that I’m hitting the ball very well. Second match even better than the first one. Under the circumstances I think I came up with a very good performance. Stayed mentally tough and not allowed myself to get frustrated because of the wind and conditions that were obviously very tough for both of us.”
The 32-year-old Mathieu was a former Top 20 player, but after a series of injuries he’s been knocked down to No. 81. So it’s hard to read much into the win.
Djokovic finally gets some pseudo opposition in the next round against Sam Querrey. The American impressed with an easy win today over the semi-dangerous Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
In the quarters, Djokovic could meet former champion Andy Murray. The Scot has also had his struggles, especially in his trying opener against Robin Haase, showed no signs of physical issues tonight in blowing by German qualifier Matthias Bachinger 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
“I hope I feel better every day now,” Murray said. “I felt fine the last couple days. Had no problems, you know, on the Tuesday or Wednesday. I practiced well and didn’t have any problem. Tonight was fine, too.”
The 2012 now has a Saturday date with Andrey Kuznetsov, a surprise winner in five over Fernando Verdasco.
“He’s had a couple big wins in the slams this year,” said Murray of the Russian. “He beat Ferrer at Wimbledon and obviously today against Verdasco. I’ve never played him before. I don’t know his game that well, but I’ve seen him play a little bit. He hits the ball pretty flat. Likes to go for his shots a lot. This court’s fairly quick, so that will probably help him, as well. But I’ll watch a little bit of video tomorrow evening, try to understand his game a bit better.”
JW Tsonga, who could face Murray Monday in the 16s, wasted no energy in a decisive win over Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Up next for the Frenchman is Spanish hope Pablo Carreno Busta.
Other winners were Kei Nishikori (by retirement), Milos Raonic, Victor Estrella Burgos, Nick Kyrgios who continued to roll and Tommy Robredo who continued to make comebacks. And Robredo now meets the 19-year-old Australian on Saturday.
Also on Saturday John Isner will meet Phil Kohlschreiber for the third straight year in a row at the US Open, with the American hoping to finally get that win, though John has won 4 of 6.
“I thought our matches the last two years have been pretty high quality,” Isner said. “I remember last year I wasn’t disappointed with how I played. You know, he just played better than me. Simple as that. In a few days’ time I’m just gonna have to try to be better than him.”
In the last of the men’s second round matches Friday, Roger Federer returns against a second straight Australian Open, this time against the big-serving Sam Groth. Will Michael Jordan be back?
Baby Fed, Grigor Dimitrov is also in action as are Tomas Berdych, David Goffin and in three of the better matches, David Ferrer faces off against Bernard Tomic, Jerzy Janowicz locks up with Kevin Anderson and my favorite match pits Dominic Thiem vs. Ernests Gulbis.
After four days, I still have to like a Djokovic-Federer final. But we’ll know a lot more this weekend when the top guys start to play worthy opponents, not qualifiers ranked No. 258 like Murray did tonight.
FRIDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00am Start Time
Johanna Larsson (SWE) vs. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
Not Before: 1:00pm
Sara Errani (ITA) vs. Venus Williams (USA)
Bernard Tomic (AUS) vs. David Ferrer (ESP)
7:00pm Start Time
Sam Groth (AUS) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)
Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs. Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00am Start Time
Roberta Vinci (ITA) vs. Shuai Peng (CHN)
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. Dudi Sela (ISR)
Lucie Safarova (CZE) vs. Alize Cornet (FRA)
Venus Williams (USA) vs. Oksana Kalashnikova (GEO)
Serena Williams (USA) Olga Savchuk (UKR)
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