Novak Djokovic cruises through US Open first round in straight sets

Rafael Nadal also improved on a miserable season with a first round win

World number one Novak Djokovic barely broke sweat as he dispatched Brazil's Joao Souza for the loss of just three games in the US Open first round.

Djokovic is gunning for his third grand slam title of the year after triumphs at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and the Serb put on a dominant opening display in New York to win 6-1 6-1 6-1.

The victory took just one hour and 11 minutes to complete, with Djokovic now up against either Canada’s Vasek Pospisil or Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer in round two.

Djokovic arrived in Flushing Meadows with some question marks hanging over his form following defeats in consecutive weeks to Andy Murray in Montreal and Roger Federer in Cincinnati.


The top seed, however, often saves his best for the heat of a grand slam and he never had to leave first gear against Souza, who is ranked 91st in the world and looked out of his depth from the start.

Seven breaks of serve, including two in the final set, and 24 winners ensured Djokovic moved safely into the second round on a day which also saw his 2014 conqueror Kei Nishikori crash out.

Nishikori beat Djokovic in the semi-finals 12 months ago and the pair had been due to meet again in the last four, but the Japanese fell at the first hurdle in a five-set defeat to France's Benoit Paire.

Sense of relief for Nadal

Meanwhile, As the most difficult season of Rafael Nadal’s career turned into the homestretch on Monday night at the US Open, many among the Spaniard’s manifold followers had reason to fear the worst. Not only had the 14-times grand slam champion entered as the No8 seed – the first time he’s been seeded outside the top three at Flushing Meadows since George W Bush’s first term – but he had drawn for his first-round opponent Borna Coric, the Croatian teenager presently soaring up the rankings who had beaten Nadal in their only previous meeting last fall.

By the time Nadal uncorked a 110mph service winner down the middle on match point at 11.43pm and throttled his fist to the New York sky, the sense of relief from the Spaniard was as palpable as the humidity that had kept the grounds a sweatbox long after sundown. The 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory over one of the tour’s young lions will no doubt bolster a confidence that for the past year has been shaken to its foundation.