Novak Djokovic, the top seed at the 2014 U.S. Open, was back on the court Thursday and kept rolling in the second round with another impressive victory, this time over unranked Paul-Henri Mathieu at Arthur Ashe Stadium, 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.
The Djoker is looking to win his second consecutive major tournament, coming off a Wimbledon victory in July, and has had no problem overpowering the competition early. He knocked off Diego Schwartzman in straight sets in the first round before making quick work of Mathieu.
As has been the case virtually all week at Flushing Meadows, there were gusts of wind that threatened to push the ball around the court. He told reporters after the match, via Kevin Mitchell of The Guardian, that adjusting to the conditions was important.
“It was very windy but I managed to adjust to the conditions which were not easy for me or my opponent, and to stay solid,” Djokovic said.
He was also looking to make this a quick day at the office, telling reporters via ATPWorldTour.com, that finding a rhythm doesn't necessarily require playing longer, drawn-out matches:
I don't feel like I need to play long matches to get into the groove. I feel that I'm hitting the ball very well. [The] second match [was] even better than the first one. Under the circumstances, I think I came up with a very good performance. [I] stayed mentally tough and [I did] not allow myself to get frustrated because of the wind and conditions that were obviously very tough for both of us.
Djokovic never let anything get him out of sync, though, making this the 10th straight year he has advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open.
About the only thing Djokovic did wrong on Thursday was showing off his dance moves after the match was over, via U.S. Open Tennis' Twitter:
Djokovic celebrating with some moves - http://t.co/Ag32XCu9OO— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 28, 2014
However, the third round has been a problem for Djokovic recently. He lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the ATP Rogers Cup and Tommy Robredo at the Western & Southern Open at this stage in his last two events.
Some of those struggles could be attributed to fatigue. ESPN's Tennis Twitter account noted the Djoker has had a busy two-month stretch since leaving The All England Club:
The only time Mathieu looked like he might be breaking through against Djokovic was in the second set. He won three matches and tried to make a comeback into the match, but it wasn't nearly enough, via ESPN Tennis:
Easy hold for Djokovic to take a two sets to love lead against Mathieu. What do you think fans, will this be a straight set win? #ESPNTennis— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) August 28, 2014
Even though he is going home, Mathieu can take some solace in his performance at the U.S. Open. It was a quick exit against the No. 1 seed on Thursday, but he played a very entertaining five-set match with Gilles Muller in the first round for his first win here in two years.
While Mathieu will have to accept a moral victory, Djokovic continues to roll on the hard court. He lost just four games in the three sets on Thursday, which Chris Skelton of Tennis View Magazine pointed out is not a coincidence:
Djokovic has lost five or fewer games in 14 matches at hard-court majors since the start of 2011.— Chris Skelton (@ChrisSkelton87) August 28, 2014
This has been a strange year for all of the top players on the men's side. Djokovic has "only" won four singles titles, which would be his lowest single-season total since winning two in 2010; Roger Federer has yet to win a major title; and Rafael Nadal is out of this tournament with an injury.
The point being, as impressive as Djokovic appears now, nothing that we have seen thus far is indicative of what's to come. His next match will be against American Sam Querrey in the third round.
Djokovic last played Querrey at the China Open in 2013, winning in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, en route to a title at that event. Safe to say the stakes will be higher this time around, with the 2011 U.S. Open champion looking to capture his second title here.