Friday, June 21, 2024

Novak Djokovic romps into US Open third round

US Open third round
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates to the crowd after his straight sets victor against Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain during their Men's Singles Second Round match on Day Three of the 2023 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 30, 2023 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

NEW YORK, August 31: Novak Djokovic continued his scorching performance at the US Open, swiftly advancing to the third round by defeating Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles in straight sets on Wednesday.
The second-seeded Serbian tennis icon, who is aiming for an unprecedented 24th Grand Slam singles title at this tournament, secured his spot in the round of 32 with a dominant 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 triumph.
Requiring just 1 hour and 59 minutes, Djokovic efficiently dispatched Zapata Miralles, setting up a match against compatriot Laslo Djere on Friday for a berth in the last 16.
Despite facing the challenging hot and humid conditions of the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Djokovic methodically chipped away at Zapata Miralles during a demanding first set. As he settled into his rhythm during the second set, the three-time US Open champion became unstoppable, concluding the match swiftly against his Spanish counterpart.
“I’m still moving pretty well for an old fella,” the 36-year-old joked in an on-court interview after his win.
“It was a tough match, especially in the first set. When we had the entire court in shadow, there was a lot of humidity.
“But it’s same for both players. I didn’t start off the match very well but the second and third sets were a couple of levels higher so I’m very pleased with the way I finished off the match.
“That’s why we train several hours a day in humid and hot conditions – trying to get ready for anything that can potentially await you on court. Once you’re in the tournament you need to be ready. Even if you think you’re not you have to keep telling yourself you are.”
Although Djokovic has dropped just 11 games in his two opening matches, the Serbian believes there is plenty of room for improvement as the tournament progresses.
“I still feel I can play better,” said Djokovic, who guaranteed he will return to the top of the world rankings with his first round win on Monday.
“But first couple of matches back, straight sets wins — I’m happy to be back.
“At 36 years of age, after 20 years of coming to New York, I still have the hunger to play my best tennis on this court.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas takes blame after US Open exit
Stefanos Tsitsipas declined to attribute his disappointing performance at the US Open to his new coaching team, as his struggles at the tournament persisted with a second-round elimination by Swiss qualifier Dominic Stricker on Wednesday.
The seventh-seeded Tsitsipas, who has never progressed beyond the third round at Flushing Meadows, suffered a defeat lasting 4 hours and 4 minutes against his 128th-ranked opponent, ending with a scoreline of 7-5, 6-7 (2/7), 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-3.
Despite the setback, this New York campaign proved to be yet another letdown for the 25-year-old from Athens.
Although he recently revamped his coaching setup by reintroducing Australian Mark Philippoussis and granting his father, Apostolos, a coaching hiatus, Tsitsipas firmly stated that these coaching changes bore minimal responsibility for his second-round defeat. He took full ownership of the loss, attributing it solely to his performance on the court.
“By no means I’m supposed to put any blame on any people or any members of my team,” Tsitsipas said.
“Everything on court is under my control and under my talents, and the way I can play this sport are shown out on the court.
“If I’m not able to deliver, then I’m not supposed to be doing well,” Tsitsipas added, praising the performance of Stricker.
“His serve was a big weapon that served him really well,” Tsitsipas said.
“He’s very loose on the serve. If he gets in the zone, he can hit some really good serves.”
Leading by two sets to one in the fourth, Tsitsipas had served for the match at 5-3.
But he suffered a service break before Stricker forced a tie-break which he won to send it to a decisive fifth set, ultimately winning the match.
Tsitsipas said he believed it was the first time he’d been broken while serving for the match.
“It hasn’t happened to me before,” he said. “Usually I’m much tougher mentally, and I have shown it by coming back…today was not the case. I was not able to bounce back after it.”
The 21-year-old Stricker will now face France’s Benjamin Bonzi, who beat American Christopher Eubanks 7-6 (8/6), 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (9/7).
(ToI With inputs from AFP)