Novak Djokovic moved into the fourth round of the 2021 US Open with a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Kei Nishikori on Saturday. Djokovic will next face either Aslan Karatsev or Jenson Brooksby in the last 16.
The Serb had an uncharacteristically slow start to the match, as Nishikori broke him nice and early. While Djokovic did claw his way back into the opening set, he lost it in the ensuing tiebreak.
But the 20-time Major champion produced a strong response in the next three sets to clinch the win. On that note, here are three talking points from Djokovic’s win over Nishikori:
#1 Novak Djokovic was firing blanks in the opening set
Novak Djokovic coughed up a mammoth 52 unforced errors against Kei Nishikori. And nowhere was his profligacy more evident than in the first set, where the World No. 1 leaked as many as 20 unforced errors.
Djokovic couldn’t find his range at all in the opening stretch of the match, as he produced seven unforced errors in the first three games. Nishikori meanwhile was a lot more solid, which tilted the scales in his favor early on.
Both players finished with the same number of points, 41, in the first set.
But Djokovic cleaned up his act soon after, and gradually reduced his unforced errors. He coughed up 13 in the second set, 11 in the third and just eight in the fourth.
#2 Novak Djokovic equals his own personal record of most consecutive wins against a single player
Before this match, Novak Djokovic’s personal record of most consecutive wins against a player was in his rivalry with Gael Monfils. Djokovic has beaten Monfils 17 times in a row (and counting), and has never faced defeat to the Frenchman.
On Saturday, Novak Djokovic registered his 17th consecutive victory against Kei Nishikori too. His head-to-head against the Japanese currently stands at 18-2.
Djokovic’s next best active winning streak is against Jeremy Chardy; he has registered 14 wins on the trot against the Frenchman.
#3 Kei Nishikori had his chances, but couldn’t make them count
It is not often that you see Novak Djokovic conceding 13 break point opportunities in a match. But he did exactly that against Kei Nishikori.
The Japanese could only convert two of those chances though. His errors, coupled with some brilliant play from the Serb, thwarted him on 11 of the break points.
Still, Djokovic would be concerned about his break point numbers given how well he has been serving his year. The Serb will look to rectify the problem in his upcoming matches, starting with the fourth-rounder against either Aslan Karatsev or Jenson Brooksby.
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