New York: Novak Djokovic overcame an early scare to move into the third round of the US Open on Wednesday, extending a 2020 winning streak to 25 matches.
The Serbian superstar dropped the first set but rallied to comfortably defeat Britain’s Kyle Edmund 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Djokovic is looking to close the gap on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both absent from Flushing Meadows, in the race for the all-time men’s Slam singles title record.
The 33-year-old — who won an eighth Australian Open title in February and who is undefeated this year — is on 17, with Nadal on 19 and Federer on 20.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw Wednesday, fifth seed Alexander Zverev defeated American wildcard Brandon Nakashima in a far from smooth 7-5, 6-7 (8/10), 6-3, 6-1 win.
The world number seven traded 24 aces with 10 double faults against a player ranked 223 inside an empty Louis Armstrong Stadium to move into round three.
Belgian seventh seed David Goffin also progressed as the top seeds continue to dominate at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre.
In other early matches, women’s sixth seed Petra Kvitova vanquished Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine 7-6 (7/3), 6-2.
Germany’s Angelique Kerber beat compatriot Anna-Lena Friedsam in straight sets.
The 17th seed won 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) in one hour 40 minutes inside Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Also in the women’s draw, unseeded Russian Varvara Gracheva dumped out French 30th seed Kristina Mladenovic 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0.
Mladenovic’s exit came after a remarkable collapse. The Frenchwoman led 6-1, 5-1 and failed to convert four match points as Gracheva came roaring back to win.
“I just collapsed,” a gloomy Mladenovic said afterwards. “I had nothing left in the tank.”
Anett Kontaveit of Estonia sailed past Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan, the 14th seed taking just one hour 13 minutes to win 6-4, 6-1.
Also Wednesday, the number one women’s seed Karolina Pliskova does battle with France’s Caroline Garcia.
Pliskova was propelled to the top of the draw by the decisions of world number one Ashleigh Barty and the second-ranked Simona Halep to skip the event because of coronavirus fears.
The US Open is taking place in a spectator-free bubble, resulting in a staid atmosphere in contrast with the usual frenetic energy that pervades the grounds of the tennis centre during Open week.
Game-winning points are being met with the odd clap from coaches and admiring glances from rival players watching from their own personal suites in Arthur Ashes.
Crowd noise is piped-in between sets while images of spectators cheering from their sofas at home are shown on “fan cams” around the Arthur Ashe court.
Later, Wednesday, Naomi Osaka, two-time Grand Slam winner and now passionate advocate for racial justice in America, returns to the court for a second-round matchup against Italy’s lowly-ranked Camila Giorgi.
In the men’s competition, fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas plays US wild card Maxime Cressy for a spot in the third round.