(Tennis news) World No. 2 Djokovic defeated Frenchman Alexandre Muller handily to begin his quest for a fourth Flushing Meadows championship. The 36-year-old started his campaign in excellent form as he competed in his first match in the competition since losing to Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final.
While taking a commanding two-set lead over Arthur Ashe, Djokovic blitzed Muller and gave up only two games in the second set, putting on a display for Michelle and Barack Obama, the former US President and his wife.
The Serb advanced to 19-0 in first-round matches in New York as he continued to dominate despite his intensity dropping slightly in the third set. He is currently 82-13 at Flushing Meadows and 39-5 overall.
As a result of defeating American NCAA champion Ethan Quinn, Zapata Miralles, rated 76th, launched his campaign. The Spaniard lost three games in the third set to earn his 17th victory in 37 matches in 2023 after winning the opening two sets with losses of four games each. He is now 2-2 in New York.
Zapata Miralles previously advanced as far as the semifinals at Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, as well as the last eight at Estoril. However, Zapata Miralles has struggled on hardcourt, losing in the first round at Indian Wells, Miami, and Toronto.
The two have never met at the tour level, hence they have a perfect head-to-head record.
Although Djokovic and Zapata Miralles both aim to dominate opponents from the back of the court, that is the extent of their similarity.
Djokovic, who is regarded as one of the greatest players in history, excels at returning the ball and has flourished on all surfaces. In contrast, Zapata Miralles primarily uses counterpunches and carries less powerful weapons.
Additionally, Djokovic is coming off a great showing in the first round where he blasted 32 winners and won 20 of 23 points at the net. Djokovic also has a stellar record at Flushing Meadows. No matter how the incumbent champion performs over the next two weeks, the Serb’s victory will guarantee his return to No. 1 and the displacement of Carlos Alcaraz.
However, Djokovic has never lost in the second round of a tournament in New York, and Zapata Miralles is unlikely to break that trend given his scant hardcourt experience.
Novak Djokovic to win in 3 sets.