Djokovic ready for Slam quest as Pliskova wins at US Open

New York (AFP) –


Novak Djokovic launches his quest for a historic calendar-year Grand Slam on Tuesday at the US Open while fellow world number one Ashleigh Barty starts her chase for back-to-back Slam titles.

Djokovic opens against Danish teen qualifier Holger Rume in the night feature at Arthur Ashe Stadium trying to become the first man to complete the singles Slam since Rod Laver in 1969 and the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988.

The 34-year-old Serbian also seeks his 21st career Grand Slam title, which would break his tie for the all-time record with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both absent due to injuries.

"I'm very inspired to play my best tennis," Djokovic said. "I don't know if I'm going to be having more opportunities to win calendar Slams. It's a very unique opportunity."

Djokovic is unbeaten in 15 US Open first-round matches entering his encounter with 145th-ranked Rune, who has a 13-match win streak in US Open qualifying and Challenger events.

But the 18-year-old is a big underdog to history-chasing Djokovic, who has won eight of the past 12 Grand Slam events.

Australian Barty, coming off a victory at Wimbledon in July for her second major crown and a title two weeks ago at Cincinnati, will open against 36-year-old Russian Vera Zvonareva, the 2010 US Open runner-up.

Tuesday's early matches included Czech fourth seed Karolina Pliskova, the runner-up to Barty at Wimbledon and the 2016 US Open runner-up, defeating 130th-ranked US teen wildcard Catherine McNally 6-3, 6-4.

"I started really well, lost my focus a little bit at the end of the first set," Pliskova said. "My serve was not really there today. It would be better if I could serve better."

China's Zhang Shuai opened with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over American Hailey Baptiste and Australian Ajla Tomljanovic beat American Katie Volynets 6-3, 6-1.

Tokyo Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, the fourth seed from Germany, rides an 11-match win streak after winning the Cincinnati title. He will open against American Sam Querrey.

Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini, a US Open semi-finalist two years ago, has a first-round match against France's Jeremy Chardy. The world number eight from Italy seeks his seventh consecutive victory over Chardy.

Canadian sixth seed Bianca Andreescu plays her first US Open match since winning the 2019 title when she faces Swiss Viktorija Golubic in the final night match on Ashe.

- Murray's toilet tweet -

Britain's Andy Murray, who complained about an extended toilet break by Stefanos Tsitsipas in his loss Monday to the Greek third seed, took his displeasure to social media Tuesday.

The three-time Grand Slam champion posted a tweet comparing Tsitsipas's seven-minute hiatus with the brief space flight of billionaire Jeff Bezos.

"Fact of the day. It takes Stefanos Tsitipas twice as long to go the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bazos to fly into space. Interesting," Murray tweeted.

During the match, Murray said, "It has never once taken me that long to go to the toilet, ever."

Australian Nick Kyrgios also brought up long bathroom breaks in his loss to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, wondering why he incurred a time violation over retrieving a towel when there were "20-minute bathroom breaks" by other players.