Novak Djokovic is back at the US Open and will now be back at No. 1 in the rankings.
Djokovic made a winning return after missing the tournament last year, rolling to a 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Alexandre Muller on Monday night.
The 23-time grand slam champion had to wait through Coco Gauff’s three-set victory to open the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium, followed by an opening-night ceremony marking 50 years of equal prize money at the US Open.
“Well, I knew it was going to be a late night for me, late start of the match,” Djokovic said. “Nevertheless, I mean, I was excited to go out on the court. I didn’t care if I started after midnight because I was looking forward to this moment for a few years, to be out on the biggest stadium in our sport, the loudest stadium in our sport, playing the night session.”
Djokovic was not allowed to travel to the US last year because he is not vaccinated against Covid-19. Monday was his first match at the Flushing Meadows since falling to Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final, a loss that prevented the Serbian from completing the first calendar year grand slam in men’s tennis since 1969.
The No. 2 seed took the first set in just 23 minutes and won the first eight games before Muller finally got on the board, raising his arms in triumph after cutting it to 2-1 in the second set.
“I think the performance explains how I felt tonight (Monday), particularly in the first two sets. It was kind of lights-out tennis really, almost flawless, perfect first set,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic improved to 17-0 in first-round matches at the US Open and assured he will regain the No. 1 ranking on September 11. Because he couldn’t play last year and had no rankings points to defend, Djokovic needed only get to the second round to guarantee he would take the top spot back from Carlos Alcaraz. It will be Djokovic’s 390th week atop the rankings, extending his own record.
Daniil Medvedev had been the forgotten man coming into the US Open, but the third-seeded Russian popped up on everyone’s radar after steamrolling past Attila Balazs 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 on Tuesday.
With his clinical dissection of Balazs, he served notice that he remains a real threat to claim his second US Open title in three years.
Alexander Zverev defeated Aleksander Vukic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 while Matteo Berrettini got the better of Ugo Humbert 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe opened their respective bids to become the first American man to win a grand slam title in 20 years with routine victories.
While the ninth-seeded Fritz crushed compatriot Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-1, 6-2, Tiafoe, the 10th seed, beat American Learner Tien 6-2, 7-5, 6-1.
Christopher Eubanks, who grabbed the limelight with an unexpected run to the Wimbledon quarter finals, was a popular winner with the home crowd after he beat South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo 6-3 6-4 0-6 6-4.
Ons Jabeur overcame breathing difficulties to secure a gritty 7-5, 7-6(4) first-round win over Colombia’s Camila Osorio on Tuesday where the Tunisian fifth seed is hoping to end a run Grand Slam near misses.
Jabeur, in her first grand slam since suffering “the most painful loss” of her career in the Wimbledon final and a day after turning 29, showed a warrior’s mentality in a two-hour battle played in humid conditions.
“It wasn’t an easy match, she plays unbelievable and I’m not feeling my best today,” Jabeur said in her on-court interview.
Ekaterina Alexandrova defeated Leylah Fernandez, a runner-up at the 2021 US Open, 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-4.
Gauff, seeded sixth, survived a surprisingly tough test from Laura Siegemund in a tense first-round match, fighting back to beat the German 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki marked her return to grand slam action for the first time in more than three years with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Russian qualifier Tatiana Prozorova.
Wozniacki is competing in her third tournament since returning to the tour in Montreal and playing in Cincinnati this month after retiring in 2020 to start a family, but the Dane’s vast experience shone through against 19-year-old Prozorova.
Danielle Collins, the 2022 Australian Open finalist, turned on the jets to dispose of Czech Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2, 6-0 in a lightning quick 52 minutes.
Francisco Cerundolo said Argentina enjoyed a “crazy triumph” on Monday after he and his brother Juan Manuel won their opening singles matches.
Francisco got the better of American Zachary Svajda 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 and claim his first win at Flushing Meadows. His 21-year-old brother also came from behind to beat Ilia Ivashka 2-6, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.