NOVAK Djokovic was the first of the title favourites to be tested at the US Open as he survived a close first set to defeat Benjamin Becker in the second round.
The world No 1 was well below his best in the early stages and German Becker served for the opening set at 5-4. But he could not take either of two set points and, from there, Djokovic took control to win 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-2.
The Serb did not look comfortable during the first set and appeared to be breathing heavily. Djokovic used to have a lot of problems with his breathing before switching to a gluten-free diet.
He said: “It was a struggle. It was different conditions from the first match and I knew that he’s a dangerous player. If he serves well, he can be a dangerous player. I tried to move him around the court. That was my tactic. But it was very tough. There were a lot of unforced errors, very windy conditions. At the start I had difficulty with my footwork.”
Twelfth seed Tommy Haas is also through to the third round after defeating Lu Yen-hsun of Chinese Taipei 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3). At 35, the German is showing some of the best form of his life and he described the inspiration he took from seeing the likes of Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors play at a high level well into their 30s. He said: “It’s always about being smart, about how you train and what you do off the court.
“And if your body allows you to do all that stuff, then it’s really up to you in many ways. It takes just discipline and work.
“If you put all that together and you try your best at doing that, I think it gives you a lot of chances. If you look at some former champions, like Andre Agassi when he was 34, 35, 36, the high level he was playing, it was inspirational for me at that time.
“Other people have done it in their late 30s as well. Look at Jimmy Connors when he was 39. Those moments stick out in your brain.”
Next up for Haas is Russian 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny, who won a surprisingly one-sided contest against Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5, 6-1, 6-3.