Townsville Bulletin

Scare for Djokovic

Novak made to work for triumph


NOVAK Djokovic struggled early but kept his hopes alive of a first men’s singles calendar-year Grand Slam in 52 years on Tuesday by outlasting American Jenson Brooksby at the US Open.

Djokovic rallied past 99thranked Brooksby 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to book a quarter-final clash with Italian sixth seed Matteo Berrettini – a rematch of July’s Wimbledon final.

“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “He loves the big stage. Big serve, big game overall. I know what to expect. I’m going to try to prepare a good game plan and hope for the best.” The 34year-old Serbian star would become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to sweep all four major titles in the same year by capturing his fourth career US Open crown.

Djokovic also seeks a men’s singles record 21st slam, which would boost him one ahead of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both absent with injuries.

An epic shocker seemed possible when Brooksby, a 20-year-old American wildcard who hadn’t played Djokovic before, broke in the second and sixth games and fired a service winner to claim the first set in 29 minutes.

“He just played a perfect first set,” Djokovic said.

“I was still finding my footing on the court.

“I must say it wasn’t a great start. Jenson was pumped. He had a clear game plan. He was executing his shots tremendous­ly. I was on my back foot. He was reading the play well.”

Djokovic broke in the second game of the second set, but was broken in a electrifyi­ng 20-minute fifth game, netting a backhand on Brooksby’s sixth break chance as the American jumped for joy. But Djokovic broke back in the sixth game, ripping a cross-court forehand winner for a 4-2 lead, and held to take the 68-minute set.

“After that, I started hitting more cleanly and through the court,” said Djokovic. “Whenever I needed a serve I found my spot well.”

Djokovic won 15 of the last 20 games after the marathon broken serve, rolling to victory in the stamina test after two hours and 59 minutes.

Berrettini defeated 144thranke­d German qualifier Oscar Otte 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Tokyo Olympic champion Alexander Zverev advanced with a straight-sets triumph.

German fourth seed Zverev beat Italian 13th seed Jannik Sinner 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7).

Zverev now faces South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, who defeated US 22nd seed Reilly Opelka 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.

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