US Open: Novak Djokovic Gets Another Pass, Rafael Nadal Marches On

Updated: 03 September 2016 07:32 IST

Novak Djokovic's third round opponent Mikhail Youzhny retired in the first set while Rafael Nadal romped in to the last 16 with a straight sets win over Russian Andrey Kuznetsov

US Open: Novak Djokovic Gets Another Pass, Rafael Nadal Marches On
Novak Djokovic, who had received a walkover in the previous round of the US Open, got another virtual pass. © AFP

New York:

Tennis is everywhere in New York during the US Open -- except, apparently, on the courts where defending champion Novak Djokovic is scheduled to play.

The top-ranked Serbian was handed a virtual free pass on Friday, when third-round foe Mikhail Youzhny of Russia retired with a left hamstring injury while trailing 4-2 in the first set.

That followed Djokovic's move into the third round on a walkover from Czech Jiri Vesely.

Meanwhile, two-time champion Rafael Nadal moved into the fourth round of the US Open with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Russian Andrey Kuznetsov.

Spain's Nadal, seeded fourth, hasn't dropped a set in reaching the last 16 of a tournament he won in 2010 and 2013.

He next faces France's 24th-seeded Lucas Pouille, a 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 winner over Spain's 15th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut.

"This particular situation I never had in my Grand Slam career," said Djokovic, who said there were good and bad aspects to his unexpected free ride.

"Considering the stage of the season, the amount of matches I've played, what I've been through with my body, I think it's actually good to have some days off and then shorter matches -- from one side," Djokovic said.

"From the other side, sure, as you are approaching the second week of the Grand Slam you want to have match play and you want to have time spent on the center court before you face one of the top players."

All of the unexpected free time means Djokovic has even more chance to check out what his rivals are doing in the tournament.

"I follow, of course," he said. "Once you're in a Grand Slam you watch a match or two when you're back in your hotel room. Mostly when I'm training, days off, or when I'm here the day of my match, tennis is everywhere, on each TV.

"Not only in the tennis facility, but all over the city. You can feel that kind of vibe."

While Djokovic hasn't had much chance to build a buzz himself, he said he thought the benefits, on balance, outweighed any downside.

"I'm not too concerned about my game itself," he said. "I've worked hard last couple days. Health-wise I feel much better than I did at the beginning of the tournament.

"I'm confident that everything is going in the right direction," said the Serb, who next faces 21-year-old Kyle Edmund, who toppled big-serving American John Isner 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5).

After just 32 minutes of play, Djokovic delighted fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium by changing from his match gear into to a T-shirt and hitting a bevy of practice serves, with coach Boris Becker looking on.

"I got an extra hour of practice on the center court," he said. "They were kind enough to allow me to practice. Got to focus on positives."

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Topics mentioned in this article Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal Mikhail Youzhny Kyle Edmund Andrey Kuznetsov Tennis
Highlights
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal reached the 4th round of US Open
  • Djokovic's opponent retired hurt in the first set
  • Nadal beat Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov 6-1, 6-4, 6-2
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