Novak Djokovic entered the third round of the Tokyo Olympics tennis tournament on Monday as Japanese star Naomi Osaka’s path to gold opened further after the departure of a host of female seeds.
Djokovic managed 14 aces in a 6-4, 6-3 win over German Jan-Lennard Struff, 48th, and will face Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina for a place in the quarter-finals.
The world number one had called on organizers to push back start times to avoid the worst of the punitive heat after the scorching sun put extreme weather policy into play in the first round.
But a gentle breeze and lightly overcast skies at Ariake Tennis Park made conditions less brutal on day three of the Games.
“I was struggling with some things in the first round, but today was a lot nicer to play, just a higher level of tennis on my end,” said Djokovic.
“I am very satisfied with the way I felt on the pitch. “
As Djokovic moves closer to a Golden Grand Slam, having already won Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon titles this year, he seems unfazed by the growing pressure.
“I think once you get to the top of the table and start winning Slams, you’re going to run into different kinds of expectations and pressure from you and the people around,” Djokovic said.
“Being a Grand Slam champion and being world number one carries a lot of weight. “
Osaka advanced to the round of 16 as they passed Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic 6-3, 6-2 in just over an hour, playing their second game in as many days after lighting the Olympic cauldron on Friday .
# photo1 “Honestly, I feel like I’m a little more nervous before the game,” Osaka said.
“I felt a lot of butterflies, but I think as I started playing and felt more comfortable, I knew that no matter what, it would be a great game. “
Before arriving at the Games, Osaka had not played since May, when she left Roland Garros saying the media engagements were harming her sanity.
– Sabalenka, Swiatek and Kvitova lose –
The second seed is the highest ranked player in the women’s table after the surprise exit in the first round of world number one and Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty.
Third seed Aryna Sabalenka was beaten by Donna Vekic in the second round on Monday.
“It would definitely mean a lot to me to win gold here, but I know it’s a process,” said Osaka, who will next face 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova.
“I know they are the best players in the world and honestly I haven’t played in a while so I try to play one game at a time. But overall I’m really happy to be here. “
Sabalenka lost 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3) to Vekic, while 2020 Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek was in tears after losing in straight sets to Spain’s Paula Badosa .
# photo2Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck knocked out Czech 10th seed Petra Kvitova in straight sets as Sara Sorribes Tormo backed up her loss to Barty with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Fiona Ferro.
Elina Svitolina risked joining the exodus of the best players, but the Ukrainian defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova beat Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-2, 6-4 and two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza beat China’s Wang Qiang for the loss of just three games.
Alexander Zverev is a potential opponent of Djokovic in the semi-finals. The German overtook Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan 6-2, 6-2 and second seed Daniil Medvedev defeated Sumit Nagal 6-2, 6-1.
Medvedev will face volatile Fabio Fognini in the third round, with Spain’s sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta taking the upper hand over Marin Cilic 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
© 2021 AFP