NEW YORK, August 29, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia overcame left-shoulder strain to defeat Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero in the second round of the US Open on Wednesday evening. The top seed won in straight sets under closed roof at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. The score-line read 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-1 at the end of two hours and 15 minutes.
The regulation-time result does little to shroud the fact that Djokovic trailed against his spirited opponent, and even had to call for the trainer to treat his left shoulder. After his first-round win against Roberto Carballes Baena on Monday, Djokovic had said that he was not physically fit coming into the tournament but that he would not be elaborating much on that.
After this match, Djokovic spoke at length about his sore shoulder and admitted that it was not easy for him to play freely. “It was definitely affecting my serve and backhand… This is something I’ve been carrying for quite a while now. It wasn’t easy to play with the pain, but you have to hope you will get some opportunities and some lucky shots,” he said.
Djokovic was down a break in the opening two sets but managed to stave off his opponent. The match had 14 breaks of serve between the two players. Djokovic claimed 71 per cent off his first serves, putting in 51 per cent of those. The 56th ranked Buenos Aires resident could only manage to win 48 per cent points behind his first serves (putting 62 per cent first serves in).
Djokovic will play either his compatriot, the 27th-seeded Dusan Lajovic or the United States’ Denis Kudla in the round-of-32. Their match was one of the 22 outer-court matches cancelled because of rain.
Koepfer knocks out Opelka
In the last match of the day, played under the roof at the Louis Armstrong Stadium, German qualifier Dominik Koepfer defeated the US-American Reilly Opelka in straight sets. The match ended 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(2) in Koepfer’s favour after two hours and 27 minutes of play, nearly half-an-hour past midnight on Thursday.
This was the first time Koepfer defeated Opelka in four meetings. In their three prior meetings – all of which had come at the ATP Challenger level – Koepfer had struggled against 42nd ranked American.
In his on-court interaction after the match, Koepfer said, “I knew I had to focus on my own serve and play aggressive during my service games, because obviously he has an unreal serve.” In terms of margin of victory, so far this is the highest-ranked opponent whom the former collegiate player has defeated on the Tour. The World No. 118 hit 38 winners to Opelka’s 48 but had just 26 unforced errors to Opelka’s 47.
The magical summer continues for the Aptos finalist, winning 10 of 12 matches in August. pic.twitter.com/Sck8TP4m2Z
— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) August 29, 2019
Following Opelka’s exit only four American men remain in the second round at 2019 Flushing Meadows.
In the top-half, amateur Jenson Brooksby, and Denis Kudla are still in the hunt for a place in the third round (their matches were among those postponed for Thursday). In the bottom half, the top-ranked American player, the 14th-seeded John Isner, and Frances Tiafoe are looking to take their place in the next round with their matches also scheduled for Thursday.