US Open Men’s Day 4 Recap: Novak Djokovic’s Quest Continues

Novak Djokovic US Open 2021 forehand
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Day 4 at the US Open saw the end of the second round of the men’s draw, with Novak Djokovic coming one step closer to the Calendar Year Grand Slam and booking a third round matchup with Kei Nishikori. It also saw the demise of another top 10 seed, with Miami champion and Wimbledon semifinalist Hubert Hurkacz losing to 37-year-old Andreas Seppi.

US Open Day 4 Men’s Recap

On the plus side

Kei Nishikori added to his legendary fifth-set record with another one of his trademark Slam marathon wins, this time against Mackenzie McDonald. Just like when they met in Washington, it was a match full of long rallies and breaks of serve, with both players mirroring each other for large parts and struggling to break each other’s defenses. Nishikori might not be the same player he once was but he’s once again shown signs that he might return to the top 20 or even top 10 at some point soon if his body allows it. Of course his draws haven’t been helping and Djokovic is hardly the player Nishikori would want to see in the third round.

Alexander Zverev is yet to face a break point this tournament; he dispatched Albert Ramos with consummate ease in only 75 minutes, dropping only four games. It was a ruthless display from the German, who has to be feeling confident about his chances of winning his first Slam here in New York.

Reilly Opelka reached the third round at the US Open for the first time in his career with a straightforward three-set win over Lorenzo Musetti. The recent Canadian Open finalist has been constantly on the rise and he’s been looking sharp so far here. He’s yet to be broken and has only played two tiebreaks in six sets. He’ll certainly be feeling confident ahead of his third round clash with Nikoloz Basilashvili.

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Who looked bad

Hubert Hurkazc won the first set but was stunned by Andreas Seppi in four, in what was without question one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. The career of the 37-year-old Italian looked to be almost done, but here he is making the third round of a Grand Slam with a great chance to advance further (faces Oscar Otte in the next round). While Seppi’s hard work and grit have to be praised, this is an extremely disappointing result for Hurkacz, who remains extremely inconsistent and will still have to wait a bit to make his top 10 debut.

Alexander Bublik was seeded for this tournament, but he took no advantage of it and continued his trend of poor Slam performances. He did hit 40 aces, but also 11 double faults; Bublik’s very risky and instinctive game tends to struggle in best of 5 and today was no exception. Jack Sock, on the other hand, returns to the third round of a Slam for the first time since…the 2017 Australian Open. He’s been showing signs of revival for a while and definitely deserved this victory.

Taylor Fritz had got a monkey off his back with his first win in five matches against De Minaur in the first round, but he couldn’t build on that and disappointingly lost to Jensen Brooksby, in a match marred by the latter’s long bathroom breaks after sets 2 and 3. Fritz had several chances to get a different result but couldn’t get it done and was eventually frustrated by his younger compatriot’s game.

Main Photo from Getty.