US Open: The strange evening of Novak Djokovic, qualified for the knockout stages – US Open (H)


Waiting and confusing

Where is Novak Djokovic? Scheduled at 5 pm on one of the Flushing Meadows training grounds, his warm-up was postponed to 18 hours, then 19 hours. He finally starts at 19:40. Accompanied by all his staff, the Serb typed with the American sparring Quinnton Vega. Ranges, services and returns, he tests his left shoulder, covered with a blue band that protrudes from his t-shirt.

In the middle of the session, while he continues the services, he is stopped by a spectator, placed behind the fences: "You should give up" The world No. 1 sees red and asks security to make him leave, before throwing him: "Believe me, I'll find you. " After this hot shot, Djokovic ended the session with his co-coach Goran Ivanisevic. He greets his fans, massed in the stands, signs some autographs and returns to the locker room. Before entering the central office, he is interrogated on his left shoulder by ESPN. "We'll talk about that after, he replies. I give myself a chance. I think it's going to be fine I'm here, let's play. "

A formality against Kudla

If we had not known about the shoulder discomfort, we would have noticed nothing abnormal. It's almost pure Djokovic that we saw against Kudla. Cutting edge both in defense and shelling mode, lively, resistant in rallies, clinical break balls to defend (seven out of seven) and very expressive. But this time, no grin of pain. Just the mimicry of fierce competitor, rather ready to attack a spectator – " Shut your mouth "he said to someone who had reacted during the exchange – only to lament his fate. Against an American brawler not hesitating to seize his chance in very rhythmic exchanges, the Serb immediately took the game to his account. We did not feel embarrassed at the service, and no more to place accelerations in reverse, sign of a shoulder under control.

Whenever Kudla tried to reverse the balance of power, Djokovic found the parry on the break balls. Twice at 4-2 in the first set (ace and ace), twice at 4-3 in the second set (ace and winning service), twice in 1-0 in the third set (forehand attack, direct foul in forehand by Kudla), once again at 3-2 (which backhand cross!). This realism on the key points is also his trademark. The American (111th World) had eliminated Tipsarevic and Lajovic in previous rounds. But the third Serb, of a caste – that of the top 10 – which he had never managed to destabilize on ten occasions, represented obviously a very different challenge. Especially when he manages to manage his physical glitches.

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