Novak Djokovic cruises into the US Open third round with straight-sets win over Bernabe Zapata Miralles

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Novak Djokovic cruises into the US Open third round with straight-sets win over Bernabe Zapata Miralles

  • Novak Djokovic dropped just six games en route to victory on Wendesday
  • The 23-time Grand Slam champion will face No 32 seed Laslo Djere next
  • DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news 

Pity poor Bernabe Zapata Miralles. Over two hours on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the Spaniard – ranked No 76 in the world – threw everything at Novak Djokovic. He forged a few openings and tested the No 2 seed time after time. 

But at the end of three sets, what did he have to show for it? A grand total of six games. 

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At one point, all Zapata Miralles could do was applaud after the ruthless Djokovic dug out another ball en route to round three. It ended 6-4 6-1 6-1. 

The 36-year-old will be back as world No 1 – whatever happens – at the end of this fortnight. Before then, he might meet another Spaniard on this court. He won’t leave anything to chance either. 

What a mouth-watering prospect a possible final between Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz is. Here’s hoping both keep their sides of the bargain. The heat and humidity on days like this can drain even the greatest players. 

Novak Djokovic overcame Bernabe Zapata Miralles to reach the US Open third round

Novak Djokovic overcame Bernabe Zapata Miralles to reach the US Open third round

Djokovic will be back as world No 1 – whatever happens - at the end of this event in New York

Djokovic will be back as world No 1 – whatever happens – at the end of this event in New York

But, really, Djokovic shouldn’t have too many more problems over this first week. The 23-time Grand Slam winner – a three-time champion in New York – has a lovely draw. No 32 seed Laslo Djere awaits in round three. 

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Here, Djokovic broke in five of the final six service games of Zapata Miralles. It was clinical. It was brutal on the Spaniard, who reached a career-high ranking of No 37 earlier this year and flew out of the blocks here. 

The Spaniard won seven of the first eight points to open up two break points in Djokovic’s first service game. That proved the cue for the No 2 seed to halt his opponent’s momentum. Djokovic held serve, he gained a foothold and then at 2-2, Djokovic broke to seize control of the set. 

Credit Zapata Miralles, however. The 26-year-old refused to let Djokovic pull away, saving another break point to remain within touching distance and forcing Djokovic to serve for it. He did, with minimal fuss. 

Over two hours Zapata Miralles - ranked No 76 in the world – threw everything at Djokovic

Over two hours Zapata Miralles – ranked No 76 in the world – threw everything at Djokovic

But the 36-year-old broke in five of the final six service games of his Spanish opponent

But the 36-year-old broke in five of the final six service games of his Spanish opponent

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Zapata Miralles reached the French Open fourth round last year but his two visits to the second round here – in 2021 and 2023 – are the deepest he has been in any Slam away from Roland Garros and his preferred clay courts.

The 26-year-old held his serve to kickstart the second set but then Djokovic moved through the gears. From there Zapata Mirralles won just 10 points all set. Djokovic dropped just one game over the next 13. 

There was a brief injury scare, midway through the third set, when Djokovic took a tumble and a few hopeless flickers of resistance when Zapata Miralles earned two break points, two games in a row. 

Djokovic saved them all and then twisted the knife. ‘I don’t want to play myself but I do every single time I play – in my mind,’ he said afterwards. ‘If I win this battle, then I win the battle against the opponent.’

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