Novak Djokovic kicks off USA comeback with comfortable win as Alejandro Davidovich Fokina retires
- Djokovic picked up a win after his Spanish opponent suffered a back injury
- The Serbian superstar will face Gael Monfils, who beat Alex de Minaur before
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Everything is as before for Novak Djokovic in his first match after a two-year absence from tennis in the United States.
The dominating Serb overtook second-round opponent Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who was forced to retire after losing the first set 6-4 at the Cincinnati Open on Wednesday.
Djokovic has not competed in the United States since the 2021 US Open final and was subsequently denied entry into the country as he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
He was far from his best in 46 minutes of action, facing break points at 1-1 before heading out of trouble.
Davidovich Fokina took a medical time-out away from the pitch to deal with a lower back issue while trailing 3-4 and when he returned his movement was restricted and he was broken for love.
Novak Djokovic did it against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his return match in the United States
Davidovich Fokina had to retire after aggravating a back injury early in the second set
The Serbian superstar will face French veteran Gael Monfils, who beat Alex de Minaur earlier
Having had the opportunity to serve the set against the ailing Spaniard, Djokovic played an uncharacteristically sloppy game, netting a forehand into the net to put the break back.
But the 23-time major winner recovered, firing a forehand cross in the next game to capture the opener.
In the first game of the second set, Davidovich Fokina took a step that further aggravated his back injury and soon after walked to the net to shake Djokovic’s hand.
“It’s great for me to be able to get back on the pitch and win a game, but obviously mixed emotions about how it ended,” Djokovic said.
“Nevertheless, I hope to be able to develop my form day by day and improve throughout the tournament by raising my level.”
Next, Djokovic meets the reborn Gael Monfils, who beat Alex de Minaur in straight sets earlier today.
“He’s an amazing guy, someone I really respect and like a lot as a person,” added Djokovic, who has an astonishing 18-0 record against the Frenchman.
“He brings so much joy to the fans, so much entertainment. He’s one of the most charismatic players we’ve had in the past two decades on tour and he’s playing better than ever.
Djokovic, who has seen fans rally in his training session and played a doubles match on Tuesday, could be on a collision course in the US Open tune-up with world number one Carlos Alcaraz , who beat him in the Wimbledon final last month. .