Pain in the neck: Djokovic gets by in 1st post-hiatus match

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Bothered by a foul neck {that a} teacher massaged two times, Novak Djokovic double-faulted seven occasions and trailed by a ruin in every set prior to warding off the rash of upsets at the Western & Southern Open by taking the final 4 video games for a 7-6 (2), 6-Four victory over Ricardas Berankis on Monday night time. The No. 1-ranked Djokovic was once taking part in his first ATP match in six months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic; he pulled out of the doubles match Sunday as a result of his neck.

“I’m trying to deal with it on a daily basis,” he stated. “It’s been like that for the past three or four days.”

Still, Djokovic progressed to 19-0 in 2020 as he prepares to hunt a 6th identify from the previous 8 Grand Slam tournaments when the U.S. Open starts in per week. That primary championship’s web site in Flushing Meadows is web hosting the Ohio-based Western & Southern Open, too, as a part of an odd doubleheader and not using a spectators.

Djokovic were given by, even if he was once wincing and stretching his neck between issues, then wound up laying on his again — a clinical masks and protecting glasses on his face — whilst having his neck manipulated after the first set.

While the excursions had been close down, Djokovic examined sure for COVID-19 in June after a sequence of no-social-distancing exhibition fits he arranged in Serbia and Croatia.

As tennis ramps up — that is the first match of the resumption for the males; the girls returned previous this month — there were a number of surprises.

No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem, a three-time primary finalist, wasn’t even aggressive in a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Filip Krajinovic, and No. 5 Alexander Zverev hit 11 double-faults — 5 over his final two carrier video games — whilst being crushed by Andy Murray 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

Like Djokovic, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka emerged with tricky wins, whilst two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, the No. 6 seed, misplaced Monday. Each of the most sensible two girls’s seeds, Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin, had been crushed Sunday.

Djokovic now meets American Tennys Sandgren, a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (5) winner over No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who amassed 15 double-faults. Another American, Reilly Opelka, eradicated No. nine seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Her yells of “Come on!” filling a just about empty stadium, Williams was once driven to the verge of collapse in her longest match since 2012 prior to pulling away with an ideal tiebreaker and edging Arantxa Rus 7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-6 (0).

“I had a crowd in my head or something,” Williams stated with amusing. “For me, it was like there was a crowd there.”

Rus is a Dutch qualifier ranked No. 72 whose flat, left-handed strokes from the baseline gave Williams some bother. Williams dropped 4 video games in a row in the 2d set, then did so once more in the 3rd, when she fell at the back of 6-5.

Rus served for the match there and, at deuce, was once two issues from victory.

She wouldn’t win some other level.

Showing the strokes and grit that carried her to 23 Grand Slam titles — towards an opponent who hasn’t ever received such a lot as one tour-level singles identify of any type — Williams ran away with it, finishing the 2-hour, 48-minute match with a forehand, celebrating maximum issues with a yell and a clenched left fist.

Williams hadn’t spent that a lot time on a court docket since the 2012 French Open, when she misplaced in the first around to Virginie Razzano in Three hours, Three mins. That was once Williams’ best profession first-round go out at a Grand Slam match.

“I did hit a wall today in the second set, I was so hot. That never happens,” the 38-year-old American stated. “So I think physically, I’m fit. Tennis is mental. You know, it’s all mental.”

She moved into the 3rd around thank you in section to 14 aces, one at 121 mph. Osaka used 12 aces to get thru 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2 towards Karolina Muchova.

Next for Williams is No. 13 Maria Sakkari, who’s Greek and figured it could paintings to her merit to have a quiet atmosphere in New York. If there have been the standard crowd of hundreds when Williams performs, Sakkari calculated, the lovers’ make stronger would ruin down alongside those strains: “99% with her, 1% with me.”

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