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Dominant Novak Djokovic makes it look easy at US Open

By Tom Allnut

World number one Novak Djokovic barely broke sweat as he dispatched Brazil's Joao Souza for the loss of just three games in the US Open first round.

Djokovic is gunning for his third grand slam title of the year after triumphs at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and the Serb put on a dominant opening display in New York to win 6-1 6-1 6-1 last night.

The victory took just one hour and 11 minutes to complete, hardly what you expect from a men's match at the final major of the year.

Djokovic arrived in Flushing Meadows with some question marks hanging over his form following defeats in consecutive weeks to Andy Murray in Montreal and Roger Federer in Cincinnati.

The top seed, however, often saves his best for the heat of a grand slam and he never had to leave first gear against Souza, who is ranked 91st in the world and looked out of his depth from the start.

Seven breaks of serve, including two in the final set, and 24 winners ensured Djokovic moved safely into the second round on a day which saw his 2014 conqueror Kei Nishikori crash out.

Nishikori beat Djokovic in the semi-finals 12 months ago and the pair had been due to meet again in the last four, but the Japanese fell at the first hurdle in a five-set defeat to France's Benoit Paire.

Serena Williams enjoyed an excellent first day at the US Open without even hitting a ball as five seeds in the American's half of the draw lost in the first round.

Seventh seed Ana Ivanovic led the list of challengers to fall at the first hurdle but there were also surprise defeats for eighth seed Karolina Pliskova, 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, 21st seed Jelena Jankovic and 30th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Third seed Maria Sharapova, due to meet Williams in the semi-finals, also withdrew on Sunday due to injury.

The exits in theory should ease the American's path to the final as she bids to become the first female player in 27 years to win a calendar grand slam.

Ivanovic, who beat Williams in the 2014 Australian Open, was playing the opening match of the tournament in Arthur Ashe Stadium and the home crowd were not made to wait long for an upset as she lost 6-3 3-6 6-3 to Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova.

Cibulkova represented a tough opening test for Ivanovic, having reached the Australian Open final only last year before falling down the rankings due to an Achilles injury.

It is the third time this season Ivanovic has been knocked out before the third round at a grand slam.

"It was a very tough match-up I thought, especially for the first round," Ivanovic said.

"I really felt like I had been improving. Last week I saw a huge improvement in my game overal. My serve was really good today.

"That's why it's so disappointing because it was a very tough first match I think for both of us.

"So it's not easy but today I felt like she used her opportunities better than I did."

Pliskova lost to American qualifier Anna Tatishvili, Suarez Navarro was beaten by Czech Denisa Allertova, while Jankovic and Kuznetsova fell to French duo Oceane Dodin and Kristina Mladenovic respectively.

Serena's sister Venus came close to joining the list of casualties but the 13-time grand slam champion dug deep to beat Monica Puig 6-4 6-7 (7/9) 6-3.

Venus will now play fellow American Irina Falconi in the second round. How she would love to make a run in the tournament but will need to make improvements to do it.

Belfast Telegraph


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