Djokovic needs 73 minutes to move to second round of U.S. Open
NEW YORK (AP) -- So, Novak Djokovic, tell us how you really felt about your first-round match at the U.S. Open on Tuesday night.
"I tried to analyze my game," Djokovic said, "and my game was great from the start to the end."
Pretty accurate assessment, actually.
Djokovic lost the opening game of his title defense at Flushing Meadows, and then reeled off 18 of the next 19 games, completely controlling every aspect of a 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 victory over 69th-ranked Paolo Lorenzi of Italy.
All told, Djokovic put in 73 minutes of work under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium. If it could really be called work at all.
Of course, that was one of his objectives. Saving energy is key, because Djokovic wants to win seven consecutive matches over these two weeks so he can leave town with the sixth Grand Slam championship of his career.
"It's also important for me to try to be as economical with the time I spend on the court as possible, but obviously not underestimating any opponent," the Serb said. "I played really focused, tried to get to the net, also. It was great, all in all."
The second-seeded Djokovic won 79 of 114 points, hit seven aces and finished with a 32-10 edge in winners.
Lorenzi complained that he had a lot of trouble dealing with the swirling wind in the 23,000-seat arena, a lament heard often on Day 2 of the year's last major tournament.
Balls would zig when players thought they would zag. Shots hit with the wind at a player's back would fly much further than intended. Ball tosses on serves were difficult to calibrate just right.
"The wind swirled a lot, and I had problems. I couldn't enjoy myself," Lorenzi said.
And then he acknowledged: "I don't think I would have had more chances if there wasn't any wind. But I might have had a little more fun."
Truth was, Lorenzi's biggest impediment was Djokovic.
"It was very difficult to get into a point. If I tried to go forward, he passed very well. When I tried to play defense at the baseline, he missed very little. He always got the ball back," Lorenzi said. "And so I never had anything to go on. And when he got going with his winners, he caused me other problems."
Lorenzi dropped 12 games in a row until finally ending that string by winning the first game of the third set. He raised his hands, pretending to have captured much more than a single game, and the crowd responded with cheers.
That was it, though.
Lorenzi has been in this situation before: He also faced Djokovic in the first round at the Australian Open in January, and the result was rather similar, 6-2, 6-0, 6-0.
"The most exciting, most beautiful stadiums are these big ones. I like to play on them. I'd like to be out there more often," Lorenzi said after making his debut on Ashe. "But the problem is that when you get to play on these kinds of courts, you have to face these kinds of opponents. So maybe some other court would have been better."