US Open 2021: Novak Djokovic marches closer to Grand Slam with win over Tallon Griekspoor

Novak Djokovic moves one victory closer to becoming the first male player to win the Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

Novak Djokovic in a file photo. (Image Credit: Twitter/@usopen)

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has moved one victory closer to becoming the first male player to win the Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969. He is closer by the same margin to becoming the first tennis player to achieve the feat since the legendary Steffi Graf in 1988. The Serb, who is a three-time champion at the US Open, improved his record at Flushing Meadows to 77-12, following a comfortable win against Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor by a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 margin. Djokovic delivered an unflappable performance that left his 25-year-old adversary at a loss.

“I came out on the court with the right intensity and the right focus and it was definitely a better performance from my side than a couple nights ago,” said the Serbian following the match as quoted by US Open’s official website.

The crowd inside the stadium was quite subdued and Djokovic made sure it stayed that way, quickly grabbing the initiative by breaking back for 5-3 after a small window opened for Griekspoor through the second set. A shaky service game by the 20-time major champion had handed an opportunity but the Serbian was astute in ensuring that the same did not come back to haunt him.

The tennis star did face some irritation after an irate heckler in the crowd, but he soon stopped quietly as Djokovic methodically moved through the gears to seal his straight-sets victory in one hour and 39 minutes, ensuring the triumph with his 13th ace.

“Challenges are more mental and emotional”

The Serbian admitted that he was battling mental and emotional challenges in New York, following the match when asked by on-court interviewer Patrick McEnroe.

“Probably it’s more mental and emotional really. Physically I feel great. I can go a couple of hours every day, I don’t mind being on the court for a long time, actually the longer the match goes, I feel I have more chances to win against anybody in best-of-five. It’s really more about handling everything that is happening off the court, really all the expectations. Just trying to take it moment by moment, and really stay in the present moment and get the most out of it,” said Djokovic.

The world No.1 improves to 30-0 in first and second round clashes at the US Open. Djokovic has further set up a mouthwatering third-round clash with 2014 runner-up Kei Nishikori. The Serbian holds a superb 17-2 record against Nishikori, but the Japanese legend can take solace in the fact that he defeated the Serb in the semifinals at the US Open in 2014.

Djokovic overcomes hiccup to start US Open campaign on winning note

Djokovic made a comeback in his first-round clash against Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, to progress. The Serbian won the match 6-1, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1 in two hours and 15 minutes, having suffered a loss in the second set.

“[From] my side, I started great. Played a really, really good first set. After that, I don’t know, I was 4-3 serving in the second set. Everything was working well, but then I just lost the first serve. Credit to him for fighting. He had the crowd behind him. It was tough to play in my first match, even though I had tonnes of experience playing on this court, for him it was the first one. Still, you get nerves. You still are feeling a little bit rusty at the beginning. Obviously I’m pleased with the way I finished the match. Again, it was not a fair battle on the court with his unfortunate injury and cramping,” he stated.

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