Novak Djokovic beat Frenchman Alexandre Muller 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 on Monday in his long-awaited return to the US Open, guaranteeing he will take over the world number one ranking from Carlos Alcaraz.
The 36-year-old Serbian star, who missed last year’s tournament due to refusing to get a COVID-19 shot, is aiming for a 24th Grand Slam title and will face Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the second round .
Three-time US Open champion Djokovic played the first eight games of the match before Muller belatedly joined the board, drawing sympathetic applause from a crowd that included former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. .
The second seed showed little mercy to his overmatched rival, breaking his serve eight times and claiming victory in an hour and 35 minutes.
“I started extremely well,” said Djokovic, whose match didn’t start until after 11 p.m. after a ceremony honoring Billie Jean King and the 50th anniversary of equal prize money between men and women. at the US Open.
“I knew it would be a late night for me, a late start to the game. Nevertheless, I mean, I was excited to go out on the pitch,” Djokovic said.
“I didn’t care if I started after midnight because I had been looking forward to this moment for a few years, being on the biggest stadium in our sport, the loudest stadium in our sport, playing in the evening.”
“Everyone in tennis knows that night sessions at Arthur Ashe are definitely the most exciting, fun, loud and energetic sessions you can have in the world of tennis,” he added.
Djokovic’s previous match in New York was the 2021 final which he lost to Daniil Medvedev, a defeat which prevented him from completing a calendar Grand Slam.
He improved his record in the first round of the US Open to 17-0 against Muller, who was making his main draw debut at the tournament.
“I think the performance explains how I felt tonight, especially in the first two sets. It was truly extinct tennis, almost flawless, a perfect first set,” Djokovic said.
“I probably had the answer for every plan he had in his book. Overall, I’m very, very happy with how I feel, how I play.
“I hope I can maintain this level. It’s only the beginning of the tournament, but I already like the level of tennis.
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