WHAT HAPPENED: Top seed and 2011 US Open champion Novak Djokovic wasted little time in dismissing 32-year-old veteran Paul-Henri Mathieu of France in a routine 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 victory to secure a spot in the third round.
The win extends Djokovic’s hard-court record to 20-4 on the year, and he advances without having dropped a set thus far in only three hours of court time.
"I feel that I'm hitting the ball very well," Djokovic said of his play. "Under the circumstances I think I came up with a very good performance. Stayed mentally tough and not allowed myself to get frustrated because of the wind and conditions that were obviously very tough for both of us."
In windy conditions Thursday afternoon, Mathieu struggled tremendously on serve during the first set, committing seven double faults and registering at 42 percent on first serves. He did, however, improve his serving in the second, surrendering only one break to give Djokovic the 4-2 lead. It was all the Serbian needed to take a two-set advantage.
Mathieu’s serving woes resurfaced in the third set, while Djokovic maintained his fine form to control the remainder of the match and sweep the final set without giving up a game. The Serbian faced only one break point the entire match and finished with 13 aces and 33 winners.
Mathieu, a former world No. 12 and current world No. 81, may have carried a little extra fatigue in his legs after he played a four-and-a-half hour match against Gilles Muller in the opening round. But on Thursday, his shortcomings on the serve, combined with Djokovic’s exceptional speed and effortless play, were no match for the reigning Wimbledon champion.
WHAT IT MEANS: In extending his record against Mathieu to 6-1, Djokovic sets up a third-round meeting with Sam Querrey, one of three remaining Americans left in the men’s singles draw. The four-time runner-up here is bidding to reach his fifth consecutive US Open final, but he’ll get his toughest test yet in the home-crowd favorite.
“Sam is playing in front of his crowd. I'm sure that he's going to have some good support," Djokovic said. "But on the other hand, if we get to play on center court maybe night session, that's where my experience kicks in, I think. I have had a lot of matches, night sessions if we get to play, as I said, and I'll try to neutralize his serve that is his big weapon. If he serves well he's very dangerous. I saw a little bit of his match today and he played great. He's in good form, good shape, and has nothing to lose. It's going to be a tough one.”
Djokovic is finding his form on the hard courts of New York, after having failed to pass the third round of back-to-back events in Cincinnati and Toronto during the Emirates Airline US Open Series. He had admitted to being out of sorts post-wedding and post-Wimbledon this summer, saying that he didn’t feel comfortable and that many things “weren’t clicking” for him on court.
QUESTION: Is this the tournament where Djokovic can regain his championship form and reclaim the title he won in 2011?