Novak Djokovic is set to reclaim the coveted position of men’s world number one, overtaking his young rival Carlos Alcaraz, after a dominant victory in his return to the US Open.
The Serbian tennis star, who was defeated by Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final, showcased his prowess with a commanding 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 win against France’s Alexandre Muller during Monday night’s session in New York.
Djokovic, aged 36, was unable to compete in the United States last year due to his non-vaccination against Covid-19. However, he has made a triumphant comeback, aware that securing another title would grant him a record-equaling 24th major victory.
His aim is to match Australian legend Margaret Court’s unparalleled record, and Djokovic’s return was marked by an emphatic victory over the 84th-ranked Muller.
“I had a tremendous start, even though we began quite late. Nonetheless, I was eager to step onto the court after a couple of years,” commented Djokovic, who is set to extend his reign as ATP’s top-ranked player with a record-breaking 390th week.
Despite commencing their match at 23:00 local time, the three-time US Open champion swiftly asserted his dominance, allowing Muller only eight points in a brisk 23-minute opening set.
Muller managed to register his first points in the second set with a score of 2-1, triggering an enthusiastic celebration. However, Djokovic remained relentless and continued to pull ahead.
In the third set, Muller put up a more substantial fight, but Djokovic secured victory by claiming the final four games, concluding the match in just one hour and 34 minutes.
While Djokovic has already secured victories at the Australian Open and French Open earlier in the year, his sights are now set on a fourth US Open title. His next opponent will be Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the second round.
Notably, top seed Alcaraz, at the age of 20, clinched his inaugural major victory at the US Open in Djokovic’s absence last year. He will begin his title defense against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer on Tuesday.
The rivalry between Alcaraz and Djokovic has developed into a compelling narrative, making them the joint favorites for the men’s singles title. Their intense competition unfolded over the past year through significant matches like the French Open semi-finals, the Wimbledon final, and the recent Cincinnati final.
Their rivalry, initially brewing at the beginning of the season, lacked showdowns at key events due to their absence. Now, the tennis world is buzzing with excitement as these two titans are finally able to face off on the court once more. However, due to their status as the top two seeds, Alcaraz and Djokovic will only meet in the final rounds of the US Open.