Novak Djokovic warms up before meeting Roberto Carballes Baena in the men’s singles of the 2019 U.S. Open…yesterday. PHOTO: AFP

The defending champion and world number one player, Novak Djokovic defeated Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena 6/4, 6/1, 6/4 in the first round match of the ongoing U.S Open that ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning Nigerian time. However, third seeded Roger Federer survived a scare after losing the first set 4-6 to India’s Sumit Nagal, but he clinched the next three sets to advance to second round. It was, however, a legion of marathon matches in the men’s draw.

The 32-year old Djokovic achieved victory in one hour and 52 minutes against the 22-year old world number 76. Djokovic made 44 out of 73 first serves but won percent of deliveries. He converted four of 11 break opportunities, while he did not face a single break point.

Although both players hit 25 outright winning shots, Djokovic had a higher number of unforced errors yet tallied a total of 94 points to Baena’s 70.

Serena Williams and other women players achieved straight set victories, except for Ashleigh Barty who dropped the first set before rallying to defeat Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan, 1/6; 63; 6/3 in 102 minutes. It was a different story with the men.

Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak ranked 94, achieved an upset over world number 73, Nicolas Jarry of Chile, 6/7(2); 7/6(5); &/6(6); 1/6; 6/4. Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis defeated Jiri Vesely of Czech Republic 4/6; 7/6; 3/6(4); 7/6(4); 6/4. Jeremy Chardy of France defeated Hurkacz, 3/6; 6/3; 6/7(6); 6/1; 6/4.

The stormy state of the women’s game resulted in a first round match between the 2006 champion, Maria Sharapova of Russia and Serena Williams. However, the encounter did not match the hype as Serena defeated Maria 6/1; 6/1 in 59 minutes. Neither of the two was outstanding. Serena made five aces and two double faults while her opponent delivered one ace and three double faults.

The difference, however, was Serena winning most points on her first serve. The American star won five of six break opportunities, while she cancelled the five break dangers she faced on serve. Serena hit 16 outright winners and committed 12 unforced errors. Maria made only 6 winners and 20 unforced errors.

The career face-offs started with Maria defeating Serena for the Wimbledon crown but coming to the US Open, Serena had won their last 18 matches. It was their first ever face-off at the US Open in New York and the two had not played against each other in three years. After the match, Serena was asked about the dominance. “I just feel like her game really matches up well against mine. Her ball somehow lands in my strike zone. It’s just perfect for me.” By the victory, Serena stretched her career match-up record with Maria to 20-3.

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