x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Djokovic, Federer and Azarenka make progress in US Open tennis

All three players win first-round matches in straight sets at Flushing Meadows.

Novak Djokovic was a little sloppy towards the end of his first-round match. Al Bello / Getty Images / AFP
Novak Djokovic was a little sloppy towards the end of his first-round match. Al Bello / Getty Images / AFP

NEW YORK // Top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia lived up to his ranking by playing to near perfection in overwhelming Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in his opening match at the US Open on Tuesday.

The world No 1 committed only two unforced errors before getting a little sloppy toward the end of the third set, finishing with nine miscues against 28 winners, including 10 aces.

Djokovic, who buried groundstrokes from both wings into the corners with 112th-ranked Berankis looking on helplessly, also fended off seven of eight break points held by the Lithuanian.

The Serb, who recently added former professional Wojtek Fibak to his team as a tactical consultant, said the comprehensive nature of the win had been satisfying.

"I was playing on a very high level," he said. "I was just very happy with the concentration, because I didn't play so well in Montreal and Cincinnati in the warm-up tournaments for the US Open.

"So I had 10 days to really give everything I can on the practice courts. I was very committed and put 100 per cent into my preparations.

"It's starting to pay off. The first match was as well as it could be. Now I need to continue on working and stay on this course."

Berankis was impressed.

"I had to come up with my best shots to win a point and win a couple of games. I was really impressed with how he played so focused, not one point easy for me," he said.

"The feeling is like, man you have to work so much harder to be at least close to those top guys."

It was the first appearance for Berankis in Arthur Ashe Stadium and his first night match - a factor which Djokovic said he had used to his advantage.

"I think the night sessions in New York are quite different from any other tournament because of just the vibe that you feel with the people, the crowd gets involved," the top seed said.

"It's very exciting, always entertaining. It's fun. It's fun to play in front of the crowd. Biggest stadium we have. Looks quite impressive from down there.

"Berankis was playing his first night session. That's where I was looking for my chance to start pressing from the start."

So swift and one-sided was Djokovic's win, that his post-match news conference shifted from who he beat to what he eats.

The Serb has credited his rise to the top of the rankings to a change in diet which he explains in a new book "Serve to Win". He now foregoes dairy products, tomatoes, cold water and gluten, a protein complex found in wheat.

"This particular diet changed my life really in a positive way and affected positively my career and my overall feeling on and off the court," the Australian Open champion said.

"So I particularly wanted to share this kind of food regime and this kind of change that affected my life positively with the people, just present them my own experience.

"Everybody is different. But you always try to improve as a person and as a player.

"I've been always open-minded about sports science, about nutrition, about health, about general well-being, because that's something that is part of my job also and my life," he added

The 26 year old will play Germany's Benjamin Becker, a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 winner over Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic, in the second round.

Federer through to second round

Roger Federer, the five-time US Open champion, gave evidence he could still be a force with a commanding 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Slovenia's Grega Zemlja in his opening match.

The Swiss master, who suffered a shock second-round loss at Wimbledon in June and struggled through a back injury earlier this year, dominated the 62nd ranked Zemlja, ripping 35 winners and committing just 16 unforced errors in the 93-minute win.

Despite slipping in the rankings and entering the tournament as the seventh seed - his lowest seeding at the US Open in over a decade - Federer said he does not think about retirement.

"Right now I love it," said Federer, the all-time leader with 17 grand slam singles titles whose last major triumph came last year at Wimbledon. The 32-year-old Swiss said his passion for the game is as strong as ever.

"Clearly, when you win everything it's fun," said Federer, whose last major triumph came last year at Wimbledon.

Azarenka wins in straight sets

For all of one game, Victoria Azarenka faced a bit of a test in the first round of the US Open.

And after needing 10 minutes to break serve at the outset, the second-seeded Azarenka breezed the rest of the way Tuesday night, putting together a 6-0, 6-0 victory over 99th-ranked Dinah Pfizenmaier of Germany.

"There are things, you know, I feel like should be better," Azarenka said. "But overall, it's a good start."

It is the third time in Azarenka's career that she managed to win a grand slam match by 6-0, 6-0.


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