Novak Djokovic tops Danish teen Holger Rune in 1st spherical of US Open; Alexander Zverev rolls

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NEW YORK – When Novak Djokovic took the surname chorus of “Ruuuuuune!” in support of his relatively unknown teenage opponent at the US Open, he didn’t let anyone know.

Nor was there any visible evidence that Djokovic was shaken by the shaky spots he went through when he dropped a sentence Tuesday night as he began his historic bid to complete the first men’s tennis Grand Slam since 1969 in the calendar year and one record-breaking 21st major individual championship.

Djokovic wasn’t perfect – “It wasn’t the best of my performances,” he admitted – but he didn’t have to either. He has played a Grand Slam match this season, be it on the hard courts of the Australian Open, the red one Sand the French Open, the Wimbledon lawn or now the first of hopefully seven times on the Hart Courts of Flushing Meadows.

Djokovic quickly regained control after a dropout in the second set and then wore down his convulsive opponent.

“I mean, of course you always wish you had a lot behind you, but it’s not always possible. That’s all I can say. I mean, I don’t know; I’ve focused on myself and what I am must do.” “Said Djokovic, who is next up against Tallon Griekspoor, a 25-year-old Dutchman in 121st who came into the field after Roger Federer was eliminated.” I think I just have to see how it feels on the pitch and try to hold it up. “Together. That’s all I can do.”

So many differences between the two players at Arthur Ashe Stadium on a muggy Tuesday night.

Djokovic is 34 years old; Rune 18. Djokovic is No. 1; Rune 145. Djokovic owns 20 Grand Slam titles, the brand he currently shares with his rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal; Rune, Roland Garros’ junior champion two years ago, had never played a game in the main draw of a major tournament until Tuesday. Djokovic’s career winnings on the pitch were more than $ 150 million this week; Runes were less than $ 150,000.

Rune showed up in a blue Ikea tote bag with some belongings – “That’s a nice bag,” he explained – and was wearing a turned-back yellow hat that he swapped for a blue hat after the first set that sounded like they were coming from someone his age: all in all, he found it a “crazy experience” and “a dream come true”, and the audience support was “incredible” and “quite sick”. Feeling.”

Rune came on a winning streak of 13 games built on the subordinate ATP Challenger Tour and qualifying rounds in New York. The fans – back at the US Open after all viewers were banned from the coronavirus pandemic last year – gave him serious support, responding to his pumped fists and uppercut and requests for more noise if he played at his best second Sentence.

What initially sounded like booing to both players was actually run-in, and the kid clearly loved the moment. So did his mother, who clapped and smiled in his guest box, including Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ coach. Rune trained at the Mouratoglou tennis academy in France.

Williams came so close to winning 4 for 4 at the Majors in 2015 before losing to Roberta Vinci in one of the biggest surprises in tennis history in the US Open semifinals. Had Djokovic lost that, it would have been even more impressive.

This year, for the first time in these two weeks, every game will be played on every court without a line judge. Instead, the only human officer is the chair umpire, while every shot is controlled by a system that uses cameras to detect where balls land.

Last year, for the first time, the US Open attempted to rely solely on electronic calls for every game, with the exception of those played in the two largest arenas, Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadium, where the decisions were made. It was during a fourth round game at Ashe against Pablo Carreno Busta that Djokovic fell behind after abandoning a game in the first set when he struck a ball that accidentally hit a linesman in the throat.

Carreno Busta, who finally reached the semifinals in New York for the second time and then beat Djokovic for the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in August, was a surprising first-round loser on Tuesday. He was eliminated at 5-7, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7) by Maxime Cressy, a Paris-born American in 151st place.

Cressy played college tennis at UCLA, as did Mackie McDonald, the American who defeated David Goffin in straight sets.

In a different action, the two Olympic champions won the tennis singles: The German Alexander Zverev extended his winning streak to 12 games with a 6: 4, 7: 5, 6: 2 against Sam Querrey.

“I hope that I can maintain the level and maybe even play better,” said Zverev, the runner-up at the US Open last year, “because beating Novak here will be an extremely difficult task.”

Reilly Opelka, the man in 22nd place, swept past Soon Woo Kwon, and American Mackenzie McDonald upset David Goffin 6-2, 7-5, 6-3. But Sebastian Korda, another promising young American, was eliminated when he was eliminated at the beginning of the second set against Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Karen Khachanov, number 25, was defeated by Lloyd Harris 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

American Jenson Brooksby made the second round by defeating Mikael Ymer 7-5, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. Brooksby received a wild card for the tournament, although his strong game made him the top 100 this summer and would qualify automatically from now on. In the run-up to the US Open, he reached the final in Newport and the semifinals in Washington. Another 20-year-old Jannik Sinner from Italy, who was ranked 13th, defeated the Australian Max Purcell with 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

The American Taylor Fritz eliminated Alex De Minaur, seeded 14th, in four sets to give the host country 13 men in the second round. That’s the majority of US players who have won at least one game in the men’s singles draw at Flushing Meadows since 15 in 1994.

Fritz won a three hour game that ended just after midnight at Louis Armstrong Stadium with 7-6 (4), 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. Both players won the same number of points, 127.

Fritz had lost all four previous games he had played against Australian De Minaur, who was quarter-finalist at Flushing Meadows a year ago. The 23-year-old Fritz now meets a compatriot from California in the second round when he meets Brooksby. Fritz is in 42nd place; Brooksby is 99.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.