(September 2, 2021) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NEW YORK – After an overnight of record setting rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, the sun shone as if nothing had happened the night before at the US Open. Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Ash Barty were on cruise control in straight sets wins.
Djokovic is just five wins away from the US Open and the calendar Grand Slam. the 34-year-old Serbia knocked off Dutch 25-year-old Tallon Griekspoor 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in Arthur Ashe Stadium to lead off the evening session.
“I came out on the court with the right intensity, with the right focus. Definitely was a better performance from my side than a couple of nights ago,” the 20-time major champion said on court.
“Great performance. 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 will face former Top 10 player Kei Nishikori of Japan. Nishikori needed five sets to close out American Mackenzie McDonald. Nishikori had a chance to close out the match in straight sets but his opponent pushed him until the end.
On playing Djokovic, the man from Japan said: “Obviously I love the challenge. Now he’s one of the best on the tennis tour. It’s not something I love to play all the time because, I mean, obviously he’s the toughest opponent, one or two. I rather have someone rank lower.
“I mean, I always love the challenge. Even though I had a bad record, I always try to be positive. I’m sure it’s going to be tough one, but I do my best.”
No. 1 Ash Barty had a little bit of a hiccup in the second set but shut down Dane Clara Tauson in straight sets 6-2, 7-5.
“Today was tricky I think to navigate through that second set and just trust myself and hit out,” note the Australian.
“But all in all happy to be moving through to the third round with some work to do but we are pleased to be able to go through and get another opportunity.”
“I think each and every round is a test. I don’t come into this tournament with any expectation of myself to feel entitled to go deep into the tournament or win the tournament or whatever it may be.
“I just have to play each and every match as I would every other tournament and be prepared to play my best tennis as best I can on that given day against my opponent. That’s all I can ask from myself. Whether that’s a first round or a final, my preparation and everything doesn’t change.
“I think that’s been a massive part of our year is accepting that you don’t win every single tennis match and you’re certainly not entitled to make big finals or put yourself in the latter stages of tournament. You have to earn that right.
“I think chipping away in these first two matches has been good. The tennis hasn’t been as clean as it was a couple weeks ago, but we accept that. We keep working and go back to the practice court tomorrow, and now we give ourselves another opportunity in the third round to try and rectify that.”
. Barty is joined in the third round by a host of top 20 women: three-time major champ Angelique Kerber, Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, 2-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu No. 14 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 17 Maria Sakkari, No. 23 Jessica Pegula and No. 28 Anett Kontaveit.
The men mostly held to form with top men advancing – the gold medalist and fourth seeded 2020 U.S. Open runner-up Alexander Zverev, 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini, No. 17 Gael Monfils and No. 22 seed Reilly Opelka.
There were a few upsets on the men’s side with No. 184, wild card Jack Sock, a former Top 10 player beating the 31st seed Alexander Bublik in four sets and Taylor Fritz lost to youngster Jenson Brooksby in four sets.
Five men’s qualifiers have now reached the third round – Oscar Otte, Peter Gojowczyk, Henri Laaksonen, Alex Molcan and Botic van de Zandschulp. It’s the most reaching the round of 32 at the U. S. Open since 1984.
No. 4 seed Karolina Pliskova fought off a match point getting past American Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7) in the second match on Ashe in the evening session. The Czech trailed 5-2 in the third set tiebreaker.
The former No. 1 was a finalist at this past Wimbledon and at the 2016 U.S. Open.