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Djokovic moves five matches from calendar-year Slam

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NEW YORK: World number one Novak Djokovic moved five matches from achieving a calendar year Grand Slam by advancing to the third round of the US Open on Friday while 2019 women’s champion Bianca Andreescu extended her unbeaten run at Flushing Meadows to nine matches.

The 34-year-old Serbian cruised past 121st-ranked Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium to book a third-round date with 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori of Japan.

“I’m as motivated as ever to do well,” Djokovic said. “I’m not the only player that wants to go deep in the tournament and put his hands on the trophy. “I’m trying to be my best every day and let’s see what happens.”

Djokovic, chasing the first men’s singles calendar Slam since Rod Laver in 1969, said the mental challenge was tougher than the physical one at this stage.

“Probably it’s more mental and emotional, really,” Djokovic said. “I don’t mind being on the court a long time. I feel I have more chances in a best-of-five. “It’s more about handling everything that’s happening off the court, all the expectations.”

A fourth US Open crown would bring Djokovic his 21st career Grand Slam crown, giving him the men’s all-time record, one more than the mark he now shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both absent with injuries.

Griekspoor broke in the seventh game of the second set to pull within 4-3 when Djokovic sent a backhand long, but the number one broke back and held, taking the set on his 10th ace on his way to a 99-minute victory.

Nishikori made himself an obstacle in Djokovic’s path to history by outlasting American Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 6-3, avenging a loss in last month’s Washington semi-finals.

Canada’s Andreescu, who has never lost a main draw match at Flushing Meadows, was down a break four times against American Lauren Davis but won the crucial points to register a 6-4, 6-4 victory.

“I feel like I have a commitment now to keep it straight sets every match, which adds a bit of pressure on my shoulders,” Andreescu said.

“Honestly tennis is super chaotic and I never try to play three sets.”

Her compatriot Denis Shapovalov was in fine form as he defeated Roberto Carballes Baena 7-6 (9-7), 6-3, 6-0 in a match that quickly unravelled for the Spaniard, who beat Shapovalov at last year’s French Open.

Last year’s runner-up Alexander Zverev needed only 74 minutes to thrash Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-0, 6-3, wrapping up the match with three consecutive aces.

Among other men’s winners were 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini, 17th seed Gael Monfils and 22nd-seeded Reilly Opelka of the US. But 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz, a Wimbledon semi-finalist, lost to Andreas Seppi of Italy, and 31st seed Alexander Bublik was beaten by American wild-card recipient Jack Sock 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

German Oscar Otte, ranked 144th, became the fifth men’s qualifier to reach the third round by defeating 92nd-ranked American Denis Kudla 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

Women’s top seed Ash Barty saw off Danish 18-year-old Clara Tauson 6-1, 7-5 while fourth seed Karolina Pliskova saved a match point to beat American Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (9-7) with a tournament record 24 aces.

Three-time Grand Slam champ Angelique Kerber, Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, double Wimbledon title winner Petra Kvitova and other seeded women including Anastasia Pavlyuch­enkova, Maria Sakkari, Jessica Pegula and Anett Kontaveit all won in two sets to reach the third round.

Thursday’s results (prefix number denotes seeding):

Men’s singles:

Second round: 1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) bt Tallon Griekspoor (Netherlands) 6-2, 6-3, 6-2; Kei Nishikori (Japan) bt Mackenzie McDonald (US) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 6-3; 21-Aslan Karatsev (Russia) bt Jordan Thompson (Australia) 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (11-9), 6-1; Jenson Brooksby (US) bt Taylor Fritz (US) 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 6-2; Andreas Seppi (Italy) bt 10-Hubert Hurkacz (Poland) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6); Oscar Otte (Germany) bt Denis Kudla (US) 6-4, 6-4, 6-2; Ilya Ivashka (Belarus) bt Vasek Pospisil (Canada) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5); 6-Matteo Berrettini (Italy) bt Corentin Moutet (France) 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3; 4-Alexander Zverev (Germany) bt Albert Ramos (Spain) 6-1, 6-0, 6-3; Jack Sock (US) bt 31-Alexander Bublik (Kazakhstan) 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3; 17-Gael Monfils (France) bt Steve Johnson (US) 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; 13-Jannik Sinner (Italy) bt Zachary Svajda (US) 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (6-8), 6-4; Nikoloz Basilashvili (Georgia) bt Maxime Cressy (US) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 7-5; 22-Reilly Opelka (US) bt Lorenzo Musetti (Italy) 7-6 (7-1), 7-5, 6-4; Lloyd Harris (South Africa) bt Ernesto Escobedo (US) 6-4, 6-4, 6-2; 7-Denis Shapovalov (Canada) bt Roberto Carballes Baena (Spain) 7-6 (9-7), 6-3, 6-0.

Women’s singles:

Second round: 1-Ashleigh Barty (Australia) bt Clara Tauson (Denmark) 6-1, 7-5; Shelby Rogers (US) bt Sorana Cirstea (Romania) 7-5, 6-2; Sara Sorribes (Spain) bt Hsieh Su-Wei (Taiwan) 6-1, 6-3; Emma Raducanu (Great Britain) bt Zhang Shuai (China) 6-2, 6-4; 11-Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) bt Martina Trevisan (Italy) 6-3, 6-1; 23-Jessica Pegula (US) bt Misaki Doi (Japan) 6-3, 6-2; 28-Anett Kontaveit (Estonia) bt Jil Teichmann (Switzerland) 6-4, 6-1; 7-Iga Swiatek (Poland) bt Fiona Ferro (France) 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-0; 4-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) bt Amanda Anisimova (US) 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (9-7); Ajla Tomljanovic (Australia) bt 30-Petra Martic (Croatia) 7-6 (8-6), 6-4; Varvara Gracheva (Russia) bt 24-Paula Badosa (Spain) 6-4, 6-4; 14-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) bt Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Slovakia) 6-2, 5-7, 6-2; 10-Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) bt Kristina Pliskova (Czech Republic) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2; 17-Maria Sakkari (Greece) bt Katerina Siniakova (Czech Republic) 6-4, 6-2; Greet Minnen (Belgium) bt Liudmila Samsonova (Russia) 6-4, 6-4; 6-Bianca Andreescu (Canada) bt Lauren Davis (US) 6-4, 6-4; 16-Angelique Kerber (Germany) bt Anhelina Kalinina (Ukraine) 6-3, 6-2.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2021

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