Djokovic moves five matches from calendar-year Slam

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New York

World number one Novak Djokovic moved five matches from achieving a calendar year Grand Slam by advancing to the third round of the US Open on Friday while 2019 women’s champion Bianca Andreescu extended her unbeaten run at Flushing Meadows to nine matches.

The 34-year-old Serbian cruised past 121st-ranked Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium to book a third-round date with 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori of Japan.

“I’m as motivated as ever to do well,” Djokovic said. “I’m not the only player that wants to go deep in the tournament and put his hands on the trophy. “I’m trying to be my best every day and let’s see what happens.”

Djokovic, chasing the first men’s singles calendar Slam since Rod Laver in 1969, said the mental challenge was tougher than the physical one at this stage.

“Probably it’s more mental and emotional, really,” Djokovic said. “I don’t mind being on the court a long time. I feel I have more chances in a best-of-five. “It’s more about handling everything that’s happening off the court, all the expectations.”

A fourth US Open crown would bring Djokovic his 21st career Grand Slam crown, giving him the men’s all-time record, one more than the mark he now shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both absent with injuries.

Griekspoor broke in the seventh game of the second set to pull within 4-3 when Djokovic sent a backhand long, but the number one broke back and held, taking the set on his 10th ace on his way to a 99-minute victory.

Nishikori made himself an obstacle in Djokovic’s path to history by outlasting American Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 6-3, avenging a loss in last month’s Washington semi-finals.

Canada’s Andreescu, who has never lost a main draw match at Flushing Meadows, was down a break four times against American Lauren Davis but won the crucial points to register a 6-4, 6-4 victory.

“I feel like I have a commitment now to keep it straight sets every match, which adds a bit of pressure on my shoulders,” Andreescu said.

“Honestly tennis is super chaotic and I never try to play three sets.” Her compatriot Denis Shapovalov was in fine form as he defeated Roberto Carballes Baena 7-6 (9-7), 6-3, 6-0 in a match that quickly unravelled for the Spaniard, who beat Shapovalov at last year’s French Open.—AFP

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