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Novak Djokovic tops teen “Ruuune!” at US Open 2021 in calendar slam bid

If the last-name refrain of “Ruuuuuune!” in help of his comparatively unknown teenage opponent on the U.S. Open bothered Novak Djokovic, he by no means let anybody know.

Nor was there any seen proof that Djokovic was shaken by the shaky patches he went by means of whereas dropping a set Tuesday night time as he started his historic bid to finish the primary calendar-year Grand Slam in males’s tennis since 1969 and gather a record-breaking twenty first main singles championship.

Djokovic was not good — “It wasn’t the best of my performances,” he acknowledged — however he didn’t should be. All he wanted to do was win, and he did, simply as he’s accomplished each time he’s performed a Grand Slam match this season, whether or not on the exhausting courts of the Australian Open, the purple clay of the French Open, the grass of Wimbledon or, now, the primary of what he hopes shall be seven occasions on the exhausting courts of Flushing Meadows.

Shortly regaining management after a second-set blip, then carrying down his cramping foe, Djokovic beat Danish qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-1 to succeed in the second spherical.

“I mean, obviously you always wish to have crowd behind you, but it’s not always possible. That’s all I can say. I mean, I don’t know; I’ve been focusing on myself and what I need to do,” stated Djokovic, who subsequent faces Tallon Griekspoor, a 25-year-old from Netherlands ranked 121st who acquired into the sector when Roger Federer pulled out. “I guess I have to just see how it feels on the court and try to keep it together. That’s all I can do.”

So many variations between the 2 gamers in Arthur Ashe Stadium on a muggy Tuesday night.

djokovic us open 2021 Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, returns a shot through the first spherical of the US Open tennis championships. (AP Picture/Frank Franklin II)

Djokovic is 34; Rune 18. Djokovic is ranked No. 1; Rune 145th. Djokovic owns 20 Grand Slam titles, the boys’s mark he at the moment shares with rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal; Rune, the junior champion at Roland Garros two years in the past, had by no means performed a match in the primary draw of a significant event till Tuesday. Djokovic’s on-court profession earnings getting into this week have been greater than $150 million; Rune’s have been lower than $150,000.

Rune confirmed up with some belongings in a blue Ikea procuring tote — “It’s a nice bag,” he defined — and carrying a backward-turned yellow hat, which he exchanged for a blue one after the primary set. His descriptions of this match sounded as in the event that they arrived from somebody very a lot his age: All in all, he discovered it to be a “crazy experience” and “a dream come true,” and the group help was “unbelievable” and a “pretty sick feeling.”

Rune did are available on a 13-match successful streak, constructed on the lower-level ATP Challenger Tour and the qualifying rounds in New York. The followers — again on the U.S. Open in any case spectators have been banned final yr due to the coronavirus pandemic — gave him some severe backing, responding to his pumped fists and uppercuts and pleas for extra noise when he was taking part in at his greatest stage within the second set.

What initially gave the impression of booing to each gamers was really “Rune-ing,” and the child clearly cherished the second. So did his mom, clapping and smiling in his visitor field, which additionally included Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ coach. Rune has educated at Mouratoglou’s tennis academy in France.

Williams got here so near going 4 for 4 on the majors in 2015, earlier than shedding within the semifinals on the U.S. Open in opposition to Roberta Vinci in one of many largest upsets in tennis historical past. Had Djokovic misplaced this, it might have been much more of a stunner.

Earlier on Day Two, the top-seeded lady, Ash Barty, made a profitable return to the location of one of many two Grand Slam tournaments she has but to win.

The most important holdup for Barty throughout her 6-1, 7-6 (7) victory over 2010 U.S. Open runner-up Vera Zvonareva got here early within the first set. There was a delay of greater than 5 minutes as a result of the Hawk-Eye Dwell digital line-calling system went down when a TV digicam wasn’t working.

“Just needed to make sure all cameras were spot on, and just, I think, plug one back in,” stated Barty, the champion on the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon this July however by no means previous the fourth spherical on the U.S. Open, “and we were all right to go.”

She missed the event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, remaining residence in Australia.

This yr, for the primary time, each match on each court docket these two weeks is working with none line judges. As a substitute, the one human officiating is the chair umpire, whereas each shot is dominated in or out by a system that makes use of cameras to detect the place balls land.

Final yr, digital requires every match besides these performed on the largest two arenas, Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadium, the place folks made the rulings. It was throughout a fourth-round match in Ashe in opposition to Pablo Carreño Busta that Djokovic was defaulted after a recreation within the first set when he smacked a ball that inadvertently hit a line choose within the throat.

The capable-of-combustion Djokovic, who chucked a racket into the stands whereas shedding to Carreño Busta within the bronze medal match on the Tokyo Olympics a month in the past, stored a gentle countenance Tuesday, at the same time as a set slipped away and there was applause for his faults through the tiebreaker.

Certain, there was a watch roll right here or there. Puffed cheeks. A shake of his head. However in any other case, no outward betrayal of emotion.

Carreño Busta, was a shock first-round loser Tuesday. He was eradicated 5-7, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7) by Maxime Cressy, a Paris-born American ranked 151st. Cressy performed school tennis at UCLA, as did Mackie McDonald, the American who defeated No. 27 seed David Goffin in straight units.

In different motion, the 2 Olympic tennis singles gold medalists gained: Germany’s Alexander Zverev prolonged his successful streak to 12 matches with a 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Sam Querrey, and Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic beat Arantxa Rus 6-4, 6-4.

“I hope I can keep the level up and maybe even play better,” stated Zverev, the runner-up on the U.S. Open final yr, “because to beat Novak here is going to be an extremely difficult task.”

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