It wasn’t vintage Novak Djokovic Tuesday night in his US Open opener, but tonight the Serb got back on track hammering Tallon Griekspoor 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the third round.
“Great performance,” Djokovic commented. “Better definitely than the first round match. Obviously I’m very pleased with the way I came out on the court. I served very well. I found the rhythm on the serve. It was important I came up with the goods.
“I made him play. I saw him first time playing in his first-round match a couple days ago with Struff, saw he was serving really well. So I knew that the keys of the match, one of the biggest keys, is my return, trying to make him play, trying to make him move. He’s not the greatest mover on the court. I tried to give him always a different look.
“All in all very good, very good. I’m very pleased with the level of my tennis. All is going in the right direction.”
Djokovic, who improves to 23-0 in Slams in 2021, is now just five matches wins and 15 sets away from a historic Calendar Grand Slam.
Up next will be Kei Nishikori who needed five sets to hold off Mackenzie McDonald. The American upset Nishikori in D.C., but tonight Nishikori overcame an early break in the fifth to win a 27th career 5-set match. Djokovic has won 16 straight over Nishikori since his stunner at the 2014 US Open semifinals.
“I think his best thing is controlling the ball,” Nishikori said of facing Djokovic. “He can hit anywhere from both side. He’s been serving well. Best return on the tour. Maybe compared to other guys, less unforced errors. I mean, he has everything. I think that’s couple good things.”
Earlier in the day, Alexander Zverev is making a strong claim that he’s the man to beat or the second man. The German routed Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in just 74 minutes. That’s 74 minutes for a full three sets on hard courts.
“I’m happy that I’m in the third round,” Zverev said. “I think today in general was a good match for me. I think maybe Albert, you’ve got to ask him that, but didn’t play his best. But I’m happy. I’m happy with how the match went.
“I had two very different matches in my first round and second round, with Sam being one of the biggest servers on tour and Albert being one of the best baseliners on tour. Happy I won both in straight sets and looking forward to what’s ahead.”
Zverev connected on 81% of his first serves and lost just 3 points on that first delivery.
“My serve is kind of the key to my game,” said Zverev. “When it’s working I’m playing great. When it’s not, I’m losing matches like I did at Wimbledon.
“So I think it’s no secret that my serve is probably the most important shot in my game, and I’m happy with how it’s working. I hope I continue to get better throughout the next few matches and everything else. As I said, the matches are not going to get easier and I will need that to be my weapon.”
Zverev has now his last 13 matches and 8 of his last 9 at the US Open. Next will be the American Jack Sock who outlasted Alexander Bublik in five sets.
In an all-American battle, the noisy Jenson Brooksby toughed out Taylor Fritz 6-7(7), 7-6(10), 7-5, 6-2 in just over four hours.
The 20-year-old Brooksby used some guile and grunting to reach his first Grand Slam third round. He’ll now face Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev who came from two sets down to deny Jordan Thompson.
Former semifinalist Matteo Berrettini dropped a set but won in four over Corentin Moutet. Moutet’s countryman Gael Monfils advanced over Steve Johnson in four.
Another Top 10 seed was sent home as No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz fel to Andreas Seppi in 4.
And Reilly Opelka didn’t drop serve in a win over Italian teen Lorenzo Musetti.
In the nightcap on Armstrong, Denis Shapovalov shook off 7 first set double faults to beat Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in straights.
Tomorrow for the start of the third round, Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev return plus Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the men’s match of the day.
FRIDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium, Day Session – 12:00 PM Start
Victoria Azarenka (BLR)  vs. Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 
Not Before 1:30 PM
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 
Arthur Ashe Stadium, Night Session – 7:00 PM Start
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) vs. Naomi Osaka (JPN) 
Andrey Rublev (RUS)  vs. Frances Tiafoe (USA)
Louis Armstrong Stadium, Day Session – 11:00 AM Start
Elena Rybakina (KAZ)  vs. Simona Halep (ROU) 
Not Before 1:00 PM
Pablo Andujar (ESP) vs. Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 
Not Before 4:00 PM
Angelique Kerber (GER)  vs. Sloane Stephens (USA)
Louis Armstrong Stadium, Night Session – 7:00 PM Start
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)  vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 
Danielle Collins (USA)  vs. Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 
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