Djokovic close to 'perfect' match

 

Flushing Meadows

He has had a sensational year and for a while it seemed as though he might achieve the ultimate victory.

Novak Djokovic, who has lost only two matches since last November, won 14 games in a row at the start of his second-round match against Carlos Berlocq here last night and was on his way to a "triple bagel" victory until his Argentine opponent finally got his name on the scoreboard. The world No 1 eventually won 6-0, 6-0, 6-2 to take his place in the third round, in which he will meet Nikolay Davydenko.

"The first two sets were ideal," Djokovic said afterwards. "I could not play better. I was getting a lot of balls back. I was ending the points when I needed to. I was making a lot of winners. My serve was OK, my return was great. I felt fantastic on the court. There is not much I can say when everything seems fun and enjoyable when you're playing such good tennis."

Had he thought at any stage about the possibility of winning the match without losing a game? "I was really trying to focus on each game, not thinking about the end of the match," Djokovic said. "But the crowd got involved in the third set. It was great. We needed that. We needed that in the match. He started playing better. He started making some winners, some good shots."

Djokovic added: "I've been playing this well for a while this year. I've been playing some matches where I felt that I could not miss the ball. As a tennis player, as any athlete, when you're playing perfectly everything seems so good and you're so happy because that's exactly where you want your game to be, at the top, at the highest possible level.

"We're working hard each day. This is a tournament definitely where I want to perform my best, so I'm not under-estimating any opponents. I'm taking seriously every single match I play, even though I'm expected to win most of them, especially in the opening rounds. But I try not to get relaxed. I try to get my job done as quickly as possible and save the energy for upcoming challenges."

When Berlocq finally won a game he received a standing ovation from the crowd. He went on to win one more, but Djokovic provided the last moment of entertainment when he hit a "hot dog" shot between his legs to reach match point, a bemused Berlocq putting his subsequent volley into the net.

With the Irishman Conor Niland retiring with food poisoning in his first-round match against Djokovic, the 24-year-old Serb has lost just three games in the first two rounds. "I've played a lot of matches this year, so I don't think I lack any time on the court," he said. "I just like the matches going this way."

Whether the fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium thought the same was another matter. Djokovic's victory on Thursday night followed a similarly one-sided match between the women's world No 1, Caroline Wozniacki, who lives next door to her male counterpart in Monte Carlo, and Arantxa Rus, of the Netherlands. Wozniacki won 6-2, 6-0.

Djokovic said: "One of the guys on the way out actually said to me: 'Hey, listen, I paid 100 bucks. You're staying an hour and a half on the court. That's a lot to pay for a ticket. Give me something so I get back home with a happy face. Give me a racket or something'."

It was Djokovic's 59th victory in 61 matches this year. His only defeats were against Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the French Open and against Andy Murray in the final of last month's Cincinnati Masters, when the Serb retired with a shoulder problem when trailing in the second set.

With Murray and Rafael Nadal in the other half of the draw – the Scot was playing Robin Haase last night while the Spaniard faced Nicolas Mahut – Djokovic is on course for another semi-final showdown here with Federer. They have met in the last four of two other Grand Slam tournaments this year, the Serb having beaten the Swiss on his way to the title in Melbourne before Federer earned his revenge in Paris. Both contests were among the best matches of the year and followed a superb semi-final here 12 months ago, when Djokovic saved two match points before winning in five sets.

Federer is also looking in excellent shape here, having followed up his straight-sets victory over Santiago Giraldo in the first round with a 77-minute work-out against Israel's Dudi Sela. Federer won 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to claim his 225th victory at a Grand Slam tournament, which took him clear of Andre Agassi's total and left him just eight short of Jimmy Connors' all-time record. Federer dropped only seven points on his serve in the whole match.

Nevertheless, the former world No 1 should have a much harder challenge in the third round today. Federer plays Croatia's Marin Cilic, who was expected to be tested by Bernard Tomic but beat the Australian teenager 6-1, 6-0, 6-2 in an hour and a half. Cilic hit 34 winners to Tomic's nine and broke serve eight times.

Results

US Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, US: Yesterday:

Women's Singles Third Round: M Niculescu (Rom) bt (27) L Safarova (Cz Rep) 6-0 6-1. Thursday's results: Men's Singles Second Round: (1) N Djokovic (Serb) bt C Berlocq (Arg) 6-0 6-0 6-2; N Davydenko (Rus) bt P Starace (It) 6-2 6-4 7-5; (22) A Dolgopolov (Ukr) bt F Cipolla (It) 6-0 7-5 2-6 5-7 6-4; I Karlovic (Croa) bt (13) R Gasquet (Fr) 6-4 6-2 2-6 7-6; (9) T Berdych (Cz Rep) bt F Fognini (It) 7-5 6-0 6-0; (20) J Tipsarevic (Serb) bt P Petzschner (Ger) 6-0 6-3 3-6 6-3; (31) M Granollers (Sp) bt M Kukushkin (Kaz) 7-5 6-3 6-4; J Carlos Ferrero (Sp) bt (7) G Monfils (Fr) 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 6-7 6-4 6-4; (3) R Federer (Swit) bt D Sela (Isr) 6-3 6-2 6-2; (27) M Cilic (Croa) bt B Tomic (Aus) 6-1 6-0 6-2; J Monaco (Arg) bt (23) R Stepanek (Cz Rep) 6-4 6-1 2-0 ret; T Haas (Ger) bt A Falla (Col) 7-6 6-1 7-5; (11) J Tsonga (Fr) bt S Bubka (Ukr) 6-3 7-5 6-2; (19) F Verdasco (Sp) bt M Ilhan (Tur) 6-4 6-3 6-1; K Anderson (SA) bt (29) M Llodra (Fr) 6-1 6-2 6-2; (8) M Fish (US) bt M Jaziri (Tun) 6-2 6-2 6-4. Women's Singles Second Round: (1) C Wozniacki (Den) bt A Rus (Neth) 6-2 6-0; V King (US) bt (29) J Gajdosova (Aus) 6-2 6-0; A Amanmuradova (Uzb) bt P Parmentier (Fr) 6-3 7-5; (15) S Kuznetsova (Rus) bt E Baltacha (GB) 6-4 6-3; (10) A Petkovic (Ger) bt J Zheng (Chin) 3-6 6-3 6-3; (18) R Vinci (It) bt A Cornet (Fr) 6-2 6-3; S Soler Espinosa (Sp) bt (31) K Kanepi (Est) 6-4 6-2; C Suarez-Navarro (Sp) bt S Halep (Rom) 3-6 6-2 6-2; (4) V Azarenka (Bela) bt G Dulko (Arg) 6-4 6-3; (28) S Williams (US) bt M Krajicek (Neth) 6-0 6-1; S Stephens (US) bt (23) S Peer (Isr) 6-1 7-6 (7-4); (11) J Jankovic (Serb) bt J Dokic (Aus) 6-3 6-4; (17) A Pavlyuchenkova (Rus) bt P Martic (Croa) 6-4 2-6 6-4; C Scheepers (SA) bt M Barthel (Ger) 6-4 7-5; (7) F Schiavone (It) bt M Lucic (Croa) 6-1 6-1. *Seeded players in capitals

Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions