NEW YORK (AFP) — Novak Djokovic sailed into the US Open third round in his quest for a 24th Grand Slam triumph while Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff stayed on a quarterfinal collision course in New York.
Djokovic climbed through the gears against 76th-ranked Bernabe Zapata Miralles, winning 13 of the last 15 games to ease through 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 on Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
“At 36 years of age, after 20 years of coming to New York, I still have the hunger to play my best tennis on this court,” Djokovic, a three-time US Open champion, said.
Next up for the Serbian star is compatriot and 32nd seed Laslo Djere after Djokovic preserved his record of always reaching at least the Last 32 in New York.
“I’m pleased with the way I’m feeling, playing on the court,” said Djokovic, who missed last year’s tournament due to his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Can always be better, but the first two rounds, I didn’t spend too much time on the court and played very solid and hopefully I can keep building.”
Women’s defending champion and world number one Swiatek swept past Australia’s Daria Saville 6-3, 6-4.
The Polish is bidding to become the first woman to successfully defend her US Open crown since Serena Williams won a hat-trick of titles from 2012-2014.
“It wasn’t easy but I’m happy I tried to play my game and play aggressively with a lot of intensity and I’m just happy to be in the third round,” said Swiatek, aiming for her fifth Grand Slam triumph.
Swiatek will now play Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan on Friday for a place in the Last 16.
Gauff, 19, brushed aside 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva, the youngest player in the draw, 6-3, 6-2 to continue her strong run on hard courts this summer after titles in Washington and Cincinnati.
The sixth seed, viewed as one of the favorites in New York, takes on Belgium’s Elise Mertens for a place in the Last 16 after getting the better of Andreeva for the second time in three Grand Slams.
“I just learned to be aggressive, because if you give her something she is going to take advantage,” said Gauff, who overcame Andreeva in three sets at Roland Garros in June.
“She has a great future in front of her — I think she is going to be back on this stage many more times.”
Mertens, the 32nd seed, battled back from the brink by saving two match points in the second-set tie-break to knock off Collins 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-1.