New York: Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek rolled to straight-set victories to move into the third round at the US Open on Wednesday, fighting not only their opponents but sticky, 85-degree Fahrenheit (29-degree Celsius) weather on the hottest day at the tournament so far.
“That’s why we train several hours a day in humid, hot conditions so we can be ready for whatever awaits you on court,” the second-seeded Djokovic said after a 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 victory in Arthur Ashe Stadium over 76th-ranked Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain.
“I still have the hunger,” said the 36-year-old from Serbia who owns 23 Grand Slam titles. “I still got it.”
Swiatek, the top-seeded defending champion from Poland, had only slightly more trouble in her 6-3, 6-4 victory over 322nd-ranked Australian Daria Saville in Louis Armstrong Stadium. Swiatek has never lost in a major to a player outside the top 100.
In the biggest upset of the day, seventh-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas fell in the second round to 128th-ranked Swiss qualifier Dominic Stricker 7-5, 6-7 (2), 6-7 (5) 7-6 (6), 6-3.
Ending the four-hour match with a forehand winner that just caught the baseline, Stricker raised his hands and flopped on his back to celebrate his first-ever victory over a top-10 player in only his third Grand Slam appearance.
“I’m just super happy right now,” Stricker told the Grandstand crowd. “I came out and felt good from the first set on. ... I just kept playing high-level tennis.”
Tsitsipas, a Grand Slam finalist at the Australian Open and French Open, has still never advanced beyond the third round at Flushing Meadows. The Greek is the second-highest seed to go down on the men’s side after No. 4 Holger Rune of Denmark lost to 63rd-ranked Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena. Aslan Karatsev of Russia went on to beat Baena on Wednesday in four sets.
Earlier, Coco Gauff cruised into the third round with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva.
The sixth-seeded American approached the net 18 times, winning 15 of those points, and she credited that newfound net game after struggling to beat German Laura Siegemund in three sets in the first round.
“I learned to be aggressive,” the 19-year-old Gauff said in her on-court interview. “I did well making her play off her back foot.”
Gauff next faces 32nd-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium, who came back to beat American Danielle Collins 3-6, 7-6 (9), 6-1.
Elsewhere, Dominic Thiem, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, consulted medics and retired soon after dropping a first-set tiebreaker to American Ben Shelton, and French wild card Benjamin Bonzi defeated 28th-seeded Christopher Eubanks 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7), ending the hopes of an American who made a surprising run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Fourth-seeded Elena Rybakina advanced to the third round after Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia withdrew. Tomljanovic, who was sidelined nearly all this season by a knee injury after beating Serena Williams last year in the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion’s final match.
Lin Zhu of China defeated 18th-seeded Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-3; American Taylor Townsend beat 19th-seeded Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-6 (1), 7-5; 10th-seeded Karolina Muchova beat Magdalena Frech of Poland 6-3, 6-3; and 15th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland downed British qualifier Yuriko Lily Miyazaki 6-3, 6-3.
In the night session on Ashe, No. 10 seed Frances Tiafoe faces Sebastian Ofner, followed by Caroline Wozniacki against 11th-seeded Petra Kvitova.