Match Report

Djokovic's Devastating Start To US Open

Serb seeks to reach all four major finals in same season for third time
August 29, 2023
Novak Djokovic begins his quest to reach a record 10th US Open final.
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Novak Djokovic begins his quest to reach a record 10th US Open final. By ATP Staff

Novak Djokovic guaranteed his return to World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings Monday night with a commanding opening-round win over Frenchman Alexandre Muller at the US Open.

Playing his first match at Flushing Meadows since Daniil Medvedev denied him a calendar-year Grand Slam in the 2021 final, Djokovic punished the World No. 84 with nine early forehand winners as he took the first eight games of the contest and soon after the match 6-0, 6-2, 6-3. 

“The first set I started tremendously well off the box,” said Djokovic in his on-court interview. “We started quite late. Obviously, there was a ceremony between matches and I knew that we might have a late start, but nevertheless I was excited to come out on the court. It’s been a couple of years, and to come out here in front of you guys is always an honour and a pleasure here on Arthur Ashe.”

Watched by former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Djokovic dominated from start to finish, clipping 32 winners to Muller's 11 and excelling at net, winning 20 of 23 approaches.  He also dropped just five points on first serve.  

“I think I could have served [better] in the second and third. I dropped the level of my serve and had to work for my points a bit more, but nevertheless I think I played great from the beginning to the end,” said Djokovic. “Some hiccups, but I liked my level and hopefully I can maintain it in the next round as well.”

The win made certain the Serbian’s displacement of defending US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz as World No. 1 on 11 September, when Djokovic will begin a record-extending 390th week at the top.

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Djokovic, 36, is also chasing a record-extending 10th US Open final appearance (3-6 record). Having won the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and reached the Wimbledon final, the 23-time major champion is looking to reach the final of all four Slams in the same season for the third time in his career (2021 and 2015).

In the second round Djokovic will face World No. 76 Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles, who defeated American NCAA champion Ethan Quinn 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

“He’s a clay-court specialist but over the years all these guys learn how to play on the hard courts,” said Djokovic of Zapata Miralles. “There’s no easy opponent, obviously I respect everyone. I don’t underestimate anybody and try to give my best. Hopefully I can get another win in a few days.”

It was a brutal US Open debut for Muller, who raised his arms in light-hearted celebration when he finally got on the board in the ninth game of the match. Muller had just two tour-level hard-court wins on the season coming into the tournament.

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