30 Aug 2016

Djokovic advances despite fitness concerns

3:35 pm on 30 August 2016

Novak Djokovic opened defence of his U.S. Open tennis title with a laboured four sets win over Poland's Jerzy Janowicz that raised new concerns about the World No.1's fitness.

The tennis world number one Novak Djokovic.

The tennis world number one Novak Djokovic. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

After a sizzling start to the season that included grand slam wins number 11 and 12 at the Australian and French Opens, Djokovic has seen a shocking drop in form with a third-round loss at Wimbledon followed by a first-round exit at the Rio Olympics.

The Serb might have made another early departure if he was not facing a player ranked 246 places below him who had only advanced out of the first round once in four previous visits to the U.S. Open.

Arriving at Flushing Meadows, Djokovic had struggled with a left wrist injury and undisclosed "private matters" and today added a new worry as trainers were called out early in the opening set to work on his right forearm.

Several times during the two hour, 37 minute match, Djokovic could be seen grimacing hitting his powerful forehand while his serve hovered around an unthreatening 100 mph.

Djokovic next faces Czech Jiri Vesely in New York, a five-set winner over Indian qualifier Saketh Myneni.