Although his tune-up events leading up to the US Open were some of his poorest showings in the last six years, top seed Novak Djokovic returned to his confident form on Monday evening when he kickstarted his campaign at Flushing Meadows. His second obstacle is France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu, whom he has encountered seven times previously on the professional tour, and leads 6-1 in the head-to-head series.
The world No. 1 comfortably strolled into the second round of the US Open following a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Argentine Diego Schwartzman in his opener on Monday night. The Serb hit 7 aces, 24 winners and won 76% of his first service points to conclude the contest in 97 minutes.
“I thought I hit the ball very well throughout the whole match,” Djokovic said in his post-match interview. “Diego is a talented player; very quick on the court. He has to work on his serve a little bit more, I feel. He didn’t put so much pressure on his serve. You know, he’s not so tall so it’s difficult for him to serve well. But it was obviously first big match for him, first hard court Grand Slam match on the biggest stadium in the night session. I’m sure he was a bit nervous. I thought he played well. I was happy with the first match.”
Following weak showings in Toronto and Cincinnati – a missed opportunity since defending champion Rafael Nadal had withdrawn from the tournaments – Djokovic is pleased with the condition in New York and is confident in himself after a shaky couple of week.
“Conditions were a little bit different, I have to say, from the ones that I practiced in in last week or so. I didn’t practice in the night, so it’s surprisingly very quick surface. But I think I managed to adapt very well. Yeah, I had a good timing in general. So last three weeks actually, Toronto and Cincinnati, were a bit tough emotionally for me. I wasn’t finding my game. I wasn’t able to feel comfortable on the court. But look, you know, this is sport. I had many things that happened in my private life as well in the last two months, so I probably was not mentally ready to still compete at a high level in Toronto and Cincinnati. But now it’s different. I feel emotionally recharged and ready to go.”
His opponent, Paul-Henri Mathieu, reached the second round of the tournament with a elongated 6-7(7), 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-1 win over Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.
This marks the eighth time that Djokovic and Mathieu will meet on the professional tour, with the Serb leading the series 6-1. They have only had one meeting in the last five years, which was during the opening round of the 2013 Australian Open.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets