Djokovic Raises US Open Bid As Swiatek, Gauff Stroll

Novak Djokovic cruised into the third round of the US Open on Wednesday in his quest for a 24th Grand Slam title, while Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff remained on a collision course in New York.

Djokovic worked his way through the gears against 76th-ranked Bernabe Zapata Miralles, winning 13 of the last 15 games to win 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 in two hours on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court.

The Serbian star will face compatriot and 32nd seed Laslo Djere next, with Djokovic continuing his streak of reaching the last 32 in New York.

“At 36 years of age, after 20 years of coming to New York, I still have the hunger to play my best tennis on this court,” said Djokovic, a three-time US Open champion.

“I have the experience and understanding of what needs to be done in the important moments. Preserving the energy and focusing on the present moment.”

Defending champion and world number one Swiatek swept past Australia’s Daria Saville 6-3, 6-4.

The Pole is bidding to become the first woman to successfully defend her US Open crown since Serena Williams won a hat-trick of titles from 2012-2014.

“It wasn’t easy but I’m happy I tried to play my game and play aggressively with a lot of intensity and I’m just happy to be in the third round,” said Swiatek, aiming for her fifth Grand Slam triumph.

Swiatek will now play Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan on Friday for a place in the last 16.

Gauff, 19, defeated 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva, the draw’s youngest player, 6-3, 6-2 to extend her impressive run on hard courts this summer, which includes titles in Washington and Cincinnati.

The sixth seed, considered one of the favorites in New York, will face Belgium’s Elise Mertens for a spot in the last 16 after defeating Andreeva for the second time in three Grand Slams.

“I just learned to be aggressive, because if you give her something she is going to take advantage,” said Gauff, who overcame Andreeva in three sets at Roland Garros in June.

“She has a great future in front of her – I think she is going to be back on this stage many more times.”

Mertens, the 32nd seed, clawed back from the brink of defeat by saving two match points in the second-set tie-break to defeat last year’s Australian Open runner-up Collins.

The Belgian, who had three-time US Open winner Kim Clijsters in her box, won 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-1 and will now face Gauff.

Tsitsipas dumped out

Stefanos Tsitsipas’ miserable US Open run continued as he crashed out to 21-year-old Swiss qualifier Dominic Stricker in five sets.

Tsitsipas served for the match at 5-3 in the fourth set but the 128th-ranked Stricker rallied to prevail 7-5, 6-7 (2/7), 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 in just over four hours.

“I don’t know how. I did it somehow. Actually a bit speechless but it’s a great day,” said Stricker, who had won just one Grand Slam match before this week.

Greece’s Tsitsipas, the seventh seed and a two-time Grand Slam finalist, has never progressed beyond round three in six visits to New York.

Karolina Muchova, the Czech 10th seed and this year’s French Open finalist, defeated Magdalena Frech in straight sets.

Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic defeated British qualifier Lily Miyazaki 6-3, 6-3, but Brazilian 19th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia was defeated 7-6 (7/1), 7-5 by Taylor Townsend.

Fifth seed Casper Ruud, who has finished second in three of the last six majors, including last year’s US Open, plays China’s Zhang Zhizhen in the second round on Wednesday.

The fourth seed, Elena Rybakina, will face Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in the night session on Louis Armstrong, while longtime rivals Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki will also compete under the lights.

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