Top-seeded Novak Djokovic recorded 15 aces on Saturday en route to a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori to reach the round of 16 at the U.S. Open in New York.
Djokovic recovered after losing the opening set and finished with 45 winners against 52 unforced errors while taking another step toward winning all four majors in a calendar year. Tennis icon Rod Laver was the last man to perform the feat in 1969.
“I don’t think I started off very well,” Djokovic said. “I was quite passive. I was too far back in the court. He was dictating the play. I was still trying to find the rhythm, find the tempo. Obviously he played much quicker and more aggressive than my opponents in the opening rounds did, so it took me a little bit of time to adjust to his game.”
Nishikori notched six aces among 38 winners but committed 57 unforced errors.
“Well, tough loss,” Nishikori said. “I thought I was playing much better than the last couple matches we played but in some moments he was playing very solid that I couldn’t, like, break the wall.”
Djokovic, from Serbia, will next face 20-year-old Jenson Brooksby, who is the youngest American since Andy Roddick (also 20) in 2002 to reach the round of 16 at the U.S. Open.
Brooksby rallied to knock off 21st-seeded Russian Aslan Karatsev 6-2, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. He had 29 winners and 36 unforced errors, while Karatsev had 58 winners and 61 unforced errors.
South African Lloyd Harris also pulled off an upset with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over seventh-seeded Denis Shapovalov of Canada.
Harris had 10 aces and Shapovalov had seven.
Harris next faces 22nd-seeded American Reilly Opelka, who rolled to a 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-4 victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.
Opleka had 21 aces among 52 winners against 41 unforced errors. Basilashvili had 22 winners and 26 unforced errors.
Sixth-seeded Matteo Berrettini racked up 27 aces to produce a 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Ilya Ivashka of Belarus.
Berrettini had 69 winners and 64 unforced errors while being pushed hard by Ivashka, who had 11 aces among 30 winners and committed 35 unforced errors.
“I think I had to step up my game in order to win the match, and I did it in the fifth set,” Berrettini said. “I’m really happy, because mentally and physically it wasn’t easy.”
Berrettini next faces German qualifier Oscar Otte, who recorded 15 aces during a 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 win over Italy’s Andreas Seppi.
Also, 13th-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner posted a 7-6 (1), 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4 victory over 17th-seeded Gael Monfils of France. Monfils had 21 aces.
Sinner will face fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev, a winner over American Jack Sock who was forced to retire in the fourth set with a leg injury. Zverev was leading 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 2-1 when Sock retired.
“If Jack would have continued playing the way he was playing in the first set it would have been done in an hour-and-a-half and I would have planned my holidays and I would have had a good time next week somewhere in the south of France,” Zverev said. “Jack is an incredible player. He’s been Top 10, he’s beaten me multiple times, he’s beaten top players multiple times. He’s a Masters 1000 champion and he showed it in the first set.”
–Field Level Media
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