Novak Djokovic woke up early and got things over with in a hurry Sunday at the U.S. Open. Serving as the warm-up act for Andy Roddick in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the defending champion completed his second straight match without facing a break point and defeated No. 31 Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the fourth round for the sixth straight year. Djokovic needed only 1 hour, 37 minutes to clear out of the stadium, where Roddick was the headliner on Sunday’s schedule.
Last week, the 2003 champion announced he would retire after the U.S. Open. He was set to follow Djokovic onto the court for a third-round match against Italy’s Fabio Fognini. ”It’s going to be fun,” Roddick said in an interview before walking onto the court. ”It’s a fine line between trying to enjoy it and going out and trying to win it.”
Roddick could only hope he’d be in for as easy a time as Djokovic had. The No. 2 seed from Serbia faced a break point in the opening game of the tournament, against Paolo Lorenzi. Djokovic lost that point and hasn’t faced one since. ”Obviously, the serve is something I’ve wanted to improve the last 15 months or so,” Djokovic said. ”I wanted to get more free points on the first serve. Today, it was working very well.”
Djokovic finished with 13 aces with a top service speed of 128 mph. He said he’s not so used to the early wake-up calls at the season’s last major, where he often plays in prime time. ”Usually, I don’t like to play the first matches, but it was important for me to start off very strong,” he said. ”I had to come out concentrated and committed to playing very well.”
Djokovic’s entire match took only 23 minutes longer than the first set between No. 4 David Ferrer and 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt in Armstrong Stadium. Ferrer won the first-set tiebreaker 12-10, but Hewitt won the second set and they were early in the third when Roddick started warming up.