Djokovic Earns 600th Career Hard-Court Win

WASHINGTON, September 5, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

World No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic put on a masterclass display at the US Open in beating Germany’s Jan-Lennard Strufff, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in one hour and 43 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium Friday evening. The victory represented the 600th career hard-court triumph for Djokovic – including 150 in Grand Slam competition – and it extended his 2020 winning streak to 26-0.

The Serbian won 80 percent of his first-serve points and controlled the net by winning 19 of 22 opportunities. Also, Djokovic hit 34 winners and converted five of 11 break-point opportunities to beat the 28th seed Struff for the second time in two weeks after beating him in straight sets last week in the Western & Southern Open, and it was the third win for Djokovic over the German this year going back to the Australian Open.

Struff failed to converted any of the four break-point chances he had and also committed 32 unforced errors.

“It was a very, very good performance from my side,” said Djokovic, who reached the fourth round of the US Open for the 13th consecutive time. “I managed to read his serve well. I made one necessary break in the first set. I faced two break points in the opening game. The trajectory of the match can go differently if you lose your serve against a big guy like Struff, who serves very well and has a very powerful, aggressive game from the back of the court.

“I’ve been playing well the last couple of weeks, training well,” Djokovic added during an on-court interview. “I’m feeling very good. I’m confident about my game. I’m taking that into every match that I get to play.”

With the victory, Djokovic improved to 75-11 lifetime at the US Open and has reached the fourth round or better in his past 13 appearances at Flushing Meadows.

Next, Djokovic will face 20th seed Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain, who was a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 winner over Lithiuania’s Ricardas Berankis, in Sunday’s round of 16. Djokovic leads the career head-to-head over Carreño Busta 3-0.

“He’s a very solid player, maybe doesn’t possess any big weapons, buy every shot is very good,” said Djokovic in describing Carreño Busta. “He returns a lot of balls, so I’ve got to be ready for a lot of exchanges. It’s going to be a demanding match physically and mentally. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue the good performance that I had tonight.”

Shapovalov guts out five-set win over Fritz

In a battle of young guns, 21-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Canada recovered from 2-5 down in the fourth set and went on to beat American No. 19 seed Taylor Fritz, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, in Arthur Ashe Stadium in three hours and 26 minutes Friday afternoon.

Fritz came oh so close – within two points of victory in the fourth set, serving for the match at 5-3. However, it was the Canadian who prevailed and moves into the US Open round of 16 on Sunday for the second time.

After the win, during his on-court interview, Shapovalov reflected on the moment. “He was playing incredibly well today and I think we both deserved to win,” he said. “It was great tennis and I think I just got a little bit lucky.

“I stayed with him in the fourth set, when he was in control, and I saw him get a little bit tight. I tried to make him play as much as possible, then I got a little bit lucky on the set point and read it correctly to hit a good forehand. I figured I needed to make a change for the fifth set, and I picked up my intensity and level.”

The 12th seed Shapovalov will take on seventh seed David Goffin of Belgium, who ended the run of 26th seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, 6-1, 7-6 (5), 6-4, in two hours and five minutes.

Goffin hit 36 winners and broke a two-match losing streak against Krajinovic to reach the fourth round for the fourth straight year.

Zverev powers past Mannarino

Fifth seed Alexander Zverev‘s third-round match against No. 39 Adrian Mannarino of France was originally scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Louis Armstrong Stadium, but it did not go on until around 5 p.m.

The U.S. Tennis Association issued a statement that read:

“The Zverev-Mannarino match was delayed while a collaborative dialogue with health officials was conducted today. Communication with the players was ongoing during the afternoon to keep them updated at all times. Given the sensitivity of the medical issues involved, the USTA is not able to provide further details.”

Asked to comment about the delay, Zverev said, “I was told there was very little chance we would play. Then, they said there was a chance we would play at 5 o’clock. For a fellow player, I was happy that he was able to play. 

“It was different. We were supposed to play during the warmest time of the day. So, I strung my racquets a little tighter and prepared for the balls to fly a little more. We came out and basically played a night match. It was different. …

“Still lot of room for improvement. I’m not at my best yet, but I’m in [the] fourth round of [the] US Open, so that can only be a good thing.”

Zverev hit 14 aces and 11 double faults in his 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over Mannarino to move into Sunday’s fourth round against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain. Earlier, Davidovich Fokina beat Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in two hours and 43 minutes.

Coric stuns Tsitsipas in five-set thriller

Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas played well past midnight against 27th seed Borna Coric of Croatia on Louis Armstrong Stadium. The rising Greek star had six chances to close out the third-round match in the fourth set, but Coric fought off all six match points he faced to secure a 6-7 (2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4) victory in four hours and 36 minutes.

“I have to be honest and say that I was really lucky. I made some unbelievable returns and I was a little bit lucky at the end,” Coric said. “In the third and fourth set, he was playing unbelievable tennis and I felt like I had no chance. In the fifth-set tie-break, I knew it was not going to be easy for him, so I tried to just keep the ball in court and make him play as many balls as possible.”

Coric will oppose unseeded No. 63 Justin Thompson of Australia, who eliminated No. 90 Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, 7-5, 6-4, 6-1.

Brady knocks out upset-minded Garcia

No. 28 seed Jennifer Brady of the United States became the first American into the second week of the US Open after she defeated France’s Caroline Garcia in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. She needed just one hour and 16 minutes to wrap up the victory over No. 41 Garcia, who two days earlier knocked out women’s top seed Karolina Pliskova.

Brady broke Garcia’s service three times and was not broken in reaching the fourth round of the US Open for the second time. She finished with 10 aces, won 81 percent of her first-serve points and hit 18 winners.

“I looked as much as possible to be on offense before she was able to be on offense and dictating points,” said Brady during her virtual press conference. “Yeah, just really happy with my performance today.”

Next, Brady will play 17th seed Angelique Kerber after the German defeated 128th-ranked wild card Ann Li of the United States, 6-3, 6-4. Kerber reached the fourth round for the first time since 2016 en route to her US Open championship run.

The 32-year-old Kerber has not dropped a set in her first three matches against Ajla Tomljanovic, Anna-Lena Friedsam and Li. Her experience – she’s making her 14th consecutive US Open appearance – and consistency were contributing factors in her victory in Louis Armstrong Stadium on Friday afternoon.

“I came here and I have no idea where I am, to be honest,” said Kerber during her virtual press conference. “Still, I mean, I had three good matches, also close matches. Every match was a little bit different.

“But now the second week and the fourth round, I mean, you know, I’m not thinking too much ahead. It’s more like I have a day off tomorrow. Then I have the next match. This is more my focus. I’m really trying to staying here as well in the bubble, also mentally and getting ready for the next match.”

Martic sharp in win over Gracheva

Eighth seed Petra Martic of Croatia avoided an upset when she beat No. 102 Varvara Gracheva of Russia, 6-3, 6-3, in 89 minutes. It improved her US Open career record to 8-7.

“I played her a couple of weeks ago [in Prague] and I knew it was a going to be a tough match,” said the World No. 15 Martic. “She likes to grind, she’s really quick and she’s a great counterpuncher. I definitely had to work today and I’m pleased I got the win in straight sets.”

Martic’s win sets up a round of 16 match with 23rd seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. Putintseva eliminated Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Osaka taken to third set before winning

Fourth seed and 2018 US Open champion Naomi Osaka need to go the distance to put away upset-minded Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2. There were plenty of shifts of momentum during the two hour and 33-minute match, but by the end Osaka stayed the course against the 18-year-old Kostyuk.

“I’m kind of scared of how good she’s going to be in the future,” said Osaka, wearing a mask honoring Ahmaud Arbery, during her on-court interview after her third-round win.

Osaka added: “My biggest takeaway from her game is that she didn’t back down from me or from the speed of my ball, which for someone that young is kind of amazing.”

Next, Osaka will face 14th seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, who advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over 24th seed Magna Linette of Poland.

Rogers second American into fourth round 

American wild card Shelby Rogers marched into the fourth round of the US Open for the first time with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over countrywoman Madison Brengle. She’s yet to drop a set this week. Rogers hit 26 winners to just seven for Brengle. She outpointed her opponent 62-45.

Next, Rogers will face sixth seed Petra Kvitova, who beat American Jessica Pegula, 6-4, 6-3, in one hour and 24 minutes. Kvitova hit 26 winners and converted four of seven break points against the 63rd-ranked Pegula. She’s into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the 20th time.

Around the US Open

Friday’s results

Saturday’s order of play