Novak Djokovic cruises at US Open; American Taylor Townsend advances after upset

NEW YORK — All going according to plan.

Novak Djokovic, aiming for his first U.S. Open title in five years, admired his work after defeating his second-round opponent, Bernabe Zapata Miralles, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1

“I’m pleased, you know, I’m pleased with the way I’m feeling, playing on the court,” Djokovic said. “Can always be better, but the first two rounds I didn’t spend too much time on the court and played very solid and hopefully I can keep building.”

Djokovic, seeded second, will be heavily favored in his next match against fellow Serbian Laslo Djere, who has never advanced past the third round of a major. The men’s bracket, until further notice, is the prologue to a final between Djokovic and top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz.

Those tennis titans split their finals matchups in this year’s French Open and Wimbledon. Flushing would be the rubber match.

“I don’t watch a lot, but [Djokovic vs. Alcaraz] matches I actually watch from the beginning till the end,” Iga Swiatek, the top-seeded woman, said. “They are always really exciting to see, like the clash of two generations.”

Townsend fired up

In that moment immediately following her biggest singles victory in four years — and in front of a packed Court 17 — Taylor Townsend let her emotions loose, shouting to herself and the raucous crowd.

“IT’S MY TIME,” she hollered in celebration. “RIGHT NOW.”

Townsend, 27, the underdog from Chicago, overcame her Brazilian opponent Wednesday afternoon, 19th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia, 7-6 (1), 7-5, to reach the third round of a major for just her second time since 2014.

Townsend’s run, which continues Friday against 10th-seeded Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, comes after the birth of her son in 2021.

Upset

Seventh-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, a finalist at the Australian Open this year, was bounced Wednesday in the second round by unranked Dominic Stricker, 7-5, 6-7, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3.

The defeat, which took over four hours, continued Tsitsipas’s poor results in Flushing, where he lost in the opening round in 2022.

The Greek native didn’t bite when asked if the result will prompt changes to his coaching staff.

“By no means will I put any blame on any people or any members of my team,” he said. “Everything on court is under my control and under my talents, and the way I can play this sport are shown out on the court. If I’m not able to deliver, then I’m not supposed to be doing well.

“That’s what happened this summer. I was not good enough to deliver and score good results. I won’t blame it on anything.”

Stricker, a 21-year-old from Switzerland, has never advanced this far in a Grand Slam. He next faces Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi.

Bonzi toppled American Christopher Eubanks on Wednesday.

American youngster advances

Ben Shelton, a 20-year-old from Florida, benefitted from an injury to Dominic Thiem, who appeared to be hampered by abdominal pain and retired after losing the first set.

Shelton, an NCAA champion from the University of Florida, jumped on the professional scene with a quarterfinal showing at the Australian Open. His third-round opponent is Russian Alex Karatsev.

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