Playing his first match in three weeks, Novak Djokovic labored through a lethargic 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 win over Jerzy Janowicz in the first round of the US Open Monday night.
“Each day presents us some kind of challenges that we need to overcome, accept and overcome,” Djokovic said. “It wasn’t easy today playing against Jerzy for the first time. He’s a very, you know, potent player, powerful serve, big forehands. Unpredictable really.”
The 2-time champion never really found top flight in the match., though he never really had to either. The concern going in was the left wrist which kept him out of the Cincinnati event, but it was the right elbow and arm that needed treatment after just five games.
“It was just prevention. It’s all good,” Djokovic said of the medical attention.
And later in the match the Serb was routinely hitting first serves under 100mph.
“It’s getting better and better each day,” Djokovic said about his healthy. “I’m glad that I’m experiencing that. So hopefully as the tournament progresses, I’ll reach my peak.
Djokovic improves to 20-1 at night at the event and he wins his 8th straight at the US Open.
Janowicz had several break chances but couldn’t make it much of a content despite Djokovic sub-par play.
Earlier in the heat of the day, Rafael Nadal blew out Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.
“Was a good start for me obviously winning here in straight sets,” Nadal said.
“My serve worked well almost all the time. I am hitting very well the backhand, but it’s true that the forehand I need time. I need confidence and I need to keep practicing the forehand.”
As for drama, it was the Americans, specifically the young teens. 18-year-olds Taylor Fritz and Fraces Tiafoe both went the distance but fell short against their elder countrymen.
John Isner came from two sets down to deny Tiafoe 3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6(3) in 3 hours, 28 minutes. The young Tiafoe served the for the match at 5-4 in the fifth but was unable to close the door on the new Grandstand court.
“I think in that instance I actually probably played the best return game I played all match,” Isner said of the break back. “He played very well, I thought, and he earned everything up to that point for sure. I just tried to stick with it. Was able to get back into that set at 5-4.”
Isner collects his second career 5th set tiebreak win and second 0-2 comeback.
“I know how talented he is,” Isner said. “At such a young age, he seems to be the type of kid that can rise up to the big occasion, big moment, and great atmosphere. He played I thought very well. I was struggling matching his intensity. In the early goings of the match he was all over me and was the better player hands down.
“I can’t say enough about Frances. I’ve always liked him. Always. He’s a great guy. He has a fantastic future.”
Later, Jack Sock was similarly pushed by Fritz, blowing a 4-0 fifth set lead before winning 7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-4.
“Taylor turned pro last year, and he’s top 60 now for a reason,” said Sock. “He’s an incredible young player, and he has a bright future in front of him. But I was able to scrap out a few points in the end.”
Among other results, Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils both rolled while former semifinalist Richard Gasquet fell to Brit Kyle Edmund. Milos Raonic and former champion Marin Cilic also cruised.
On tap Tuesday, the red hot Andy Murray opens play against Lukas Rosol. Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Juan Martin del Potro are in action.
US OPEN TUESDAY SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00 AM Start
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) vs. Simona Halep (ROU)
Not Before: 1:00 PM
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)
Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) vs. Venus Williams (USA)
Arthur Ashe Stadium 7:00 PM Start
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)
Lukas Rosol (CZE) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00 AM Start
Denisa Allertova (CZE) vs. Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) vs. Sam Querrey (USA)
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) vs. Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) vs. Jessica Pegula (USA)
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