The US Open offers top-ranked Novak Djokovic a first-rate alternative to achieve floor on absent Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in chasing the all-time males’s Grand Slam singles title file. However a bunch of rising younger stars see an opportunity for a breakthrough when the New York fortnight begins Monday in a spectator-less COVID-19 quarantine bubble on the US Nationwide Tennis Middle.
“It is unusual to see empty stands. The circumstances are very uncommon,” Djokovic mentioned. “However we’ve to just accept that, we’ve to cope with it and attempt to embrace it.”
Prime seed Djokovic, who has received 5 of the previous seven Grand Slam crowns, improved to 23-Zero this yr on Saturday by defeating Canada’s Milos Raonic within the ATP Western & Southern closing, additionally within the New York bubble.
“Happening an unbeaten run up to now this yr clearly brings much more confidence every match,” Djokovic mentioned. “I am simply attempting to get pleasure from it and embrace the method.”
Regardless of being bothered by neck stiffness at instances, Djokovic confirmed he stays the person to beat within the Flushing Meadows fortnight as he challenges for tennis historical past.
“It is arduous to speak about my legacy,” Djokovic mentioned. “I’m attempting to profit from my profession, attempting to make use of this time once I really feel I am bodily, mentally, emotionally, game-wise on the peak and enjoying a number of the finest tennis I’ve ever performed.
“How lengthy that journey goes to final and what sort of legacy I’ll go away behind? That is on someone else to actually decide and consider.”
The 33-year-old Serbian star is ready to launch his quest for a fourth US Open title and 18th profession Grand Slam trophy on Monday evening at Arthur Ashe Stadium towards Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 107th-ranked Damir Dzumhur.
Swiss legend Federer, who’s injured, owns a file 20 males’s Grand Slam titles with Spaniard Nadal, the 2019 US Open winner who skipped New York to give attention to subsequent month’s French Open, subsequent on 19.
Djokovic misplaced an opportunity to shut floor on the elder legends when Wimbledon was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down tennis from March to August and shuffled the season schedule.
“You may sense that across the website there’s a sure stress as properly as a result of everyone seems to be being cautious,” Djokovic mentioned. “However on the similar time, everybody wants to concentrate and comply with the protocols and restrictions which can be in place.”
The final time a participant aside from Djokovic, Nadal and Federer received a Grand Slam males’s singles title was when Swiss Stan Wawrinka received the 2016 US Open.
Standing in Djokovic’s path are Austrian second seed Dominic Thiem, third-seeded 2019 US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev of Russia, Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and German fifth seed Alexander Zverev.
Toss in Italian sixth seed Matteo Berrettini, Canada’s improved Milos Raonic and Spanish eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who battled Djokovic right into a third-set tiebreaker Friday at a US Open tuneup, and the sector of 128 affords loads of threats hungry for a primary Grand Slam title.
Djokovic’s draw would see him face Tsitsipas or Zverev in a semi-final and a potential closing towards Thiem, who pushed Djokovic to 5 units earlier than falling on this yr’s Australian Open closing.
Britain’s Andy Murray, who received his first of three Grand Slam titles on the 2012 US Open, lurks in Thiem’s quarter of the draw.
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