US Open 2021: Novak Djokovic, Ashleigh Barty register hard-fought wins in first round

Djokovic defeated Holger Rune 6-1, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, while Barty beat Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 7-6(7) in their respective first round of US Open. 

US Open 2021: Novak Djokovic, Ashleigh Barty register hard-fought wins in first round

Novak Djokovic brushed aside the resistance of Holger Rune in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night as he defeated teenager by 6-1, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, to start his charge for a perfect Grand Slam season at US Open.

The 18-year-old Dane produced some spirited tennis in the second set as he took the second set away from the world number one in a fine fashion. Aside from that second-set heroics, Holger just wasn't able to capture any chances against Djokovic as the Serbian has now moved six victories from capturing all four Grand Slams in a calendar year.

With this win, the Serb, a three-time champion at the US Open, improves to 76-12 lifetime in Flushing Meadows and snaps the 13-match winning streak of the rising Rune in the process. Novak will now face Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor in the second-round clash.

Meanwhile, world No. 1, Ashleigh Barty of Australia, extended her winning streak to six with a 6-1, 7-6(7) defeat of Vera Zvonareva of Russia in the first round of the US Open in one hour and 28 minutes.

Fresh off the Cincinnati title and seeking her second Grand Slam trophy of the year after Wimbledon, Barty was flawless against the 2010 finalist in the first set, but needed to battle hard and save one set point to eke out a win in the second.

Zvonareva, bidding for her fifth career win against a reigning world No.1 and first since beating Caroline Wozniacki at the 2011 WTA Finals, did not get going until the fag end of the first set. The Russian won just nine points through the first six games to fall behind 1-5, including only three on Barty's serve.

But Zvonareva forced Barty to save two break points before closing out the opener, and then forced the Wimbledon champion in tough baseline exchanges throughout the second. Competing hard, the 36-year-old twice battled back to level from a break down, and it took Barty's best tennis to get over the line in the tiebreak.

The world No.101 Zvonareva raised her first serve percentage from 65 to 81 per cent in the second set and won six out of eight points at the net. Having been almost unable to return the Barty serve in the first set, Zvonareva began to read its direction and decrease the number of cheap points for the Australian.

In the second round, Barty will be up against 18-year-old Clara Tauson of Denmark, who won a contest between former junior world No.1s over Clara Burel of France 7-5, 6-0 in one hour and 14 minutes.

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