US Open 2021: Novak Djokovic dispatches Kei Nishikori to reach fourth round

Novak Djokovic recovered from a slow start and overcame spotty patches to maintain his dominance against the 2014 US Open finalist, advancing 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

Novak Djokovic beat Kei Nishikori to reach the round of 16 of US Open 2021; Credit: Twitter/@DjokerNole

Novak Djokovic fought back after going down in the first set to defeat Kei Nishikori 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in the third round match of US Open 2021 at Arthur Ashe stadium on Saturday. The Serb is now just four wins away from completing the first men’s singles calendar-year Grand Slam in 52 years. The 34-year-old will next face 99th-ranked US wildcard Jenson Brooksby in the round of 16 encounter on Monday. The unseeded Japanese won the first set in a tie-break before the No.1 seed steadied his ship and then marched to victory.

It was Djokovic’s 17th consecutive victory against the Japanese, improving his record to 18-2.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion looked out of sorts in the opening set, although he managed to force a tie-break. However, Djokovic struggled with his serve and Nishikori took full advantage to take the first set and just the fourth set off the Serb out of the past 33 they have played.

Djokovic, who had 52 unforced errors and 45 winners, dropped the last three points of the first set tie-breaker. However, the Serb broke early in each set from there on to seize command. In the fourth set, he grabbed a 3-2 lead and never dropped another game.

“Toughest match of the tournament for me”

“So far the toughest match of the tournament for me,” said Djokovic. “The opening two rounds obviously felt well, played good.”

“But the pace of the ball and the speed of Nishikori’s tennis today was just higher than the opening two rounds’ opponents that I had.”

It was the No.1 seed’s 67th win in 77 matches at the US Open’s showcase court. The only man who has played more times in Arthur Ashe Stadium and has won there more often is Roger Federer, whose record is 77 wins in 88 matches.

“Arthur Ashe is the place where you bring the energy,” said Djokovic. “That’s where you feel this kind of electric atmosphere, particularly in the matches like this where it’s decided in a few points.”

“Yeah, the crowd was involved. It was loud. It was nice. I thrived on that.”

That could change by next weekend. Should Djokovic defeat Jenson Brooksby in the fourth round and continue his march through the men’s draw, win a record 21st major championship. Djokovic is now tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at 20 Grand Slam titles, Both Nadal and Federer are absent from the US Open 2021 due to injuries.

Meanwhile, Brooksby, who defeated Russian 21st seed Aslan Karatsevin in five sets, will be aiming to put a break to Djokovic’s record aspirations. The World No.99 came from behind to win 6-2, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 and become the youngest man from the USA to reach the US Open fourth round since Andy Roddick in 2002.

Oscar Otte will face Berrettini in the fourth round

In the other match of the day, German qualifier Oscar Otte reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time with victory against Italy’s Andrea Seppi. The World No. 114 German won the match 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5. He will face Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini, who overcame Belarusian Ilya Ivaska at the end of a hard-fought encounter. The Italian 6th seed won 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

Another Italian Jannik Sinner also booked a place in the round of 16 as he beat Gael Monfils in five sets to win 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4. The 13th seed Sinner will meet Alexander Zverev in the fourth round match.

Sportslumo Desk

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