Djokovic wins 20th straight match to reach quarterfinals in New York

Djokovic showed no signs of the neck injury which forced him to withdraw from the doubles match last Sunday. (AP pic)

NEW YORK: World No 1 Novak Djokovic won his 20th straight match of 2020 with a hard-fought 6-2, 6-4 victory over Tennys Sandgren at the Western & Southern Open in New York.

Djokovic, who captured the Australian Open in February, needed six match points to tough out the straight sets victory and reach the quarterfinals of the hardcourt tournament.

Djokovic breezed through the final game by winning four straight points, closing it out with a cross-court forehand winner to take it in 88 minutes on Tuesday.

“All in all it was a great performance,” said Djokovic.

“I felt better and played better than last night. I am going in a great direction.”

American Sandgren, who is ranked 55th in the world, made the Serb work for the victory as he survived five match points in the ninth game of the second set.

Djokovic advances to the quarterfinals where he will play German Jan-Lennard Struff, who defeated seventh seed David Goffin 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

This week’s no-spectator event is a tuneup for the US Open which begins on Aug 31 on the same New York courts.

This tournament was moved from Cincinnati to establish a quarantine bubble in New York for the upcoming Grand Slam.

Djokovic jokingly celebrated his win Tuesday by thanking all four sides of the empty stadium.

“I served well,” he said.

“But I can still get better.”

Djokovic had pulled out of doubles on Sunday with pain in his neck but did not appear to be bothered by the injury against Sandgren.

“The neck is doing well,” he said.

In women’s action, fourth seeded Naomi Osaka rolled over Dayana Yastremska in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 in the third round.

Osaka, who is one of two top 10 players to reach the third round, clinched the victory when Yastremska was called for a foot fault while serving on match point.

Japan’s Osaka blasted eight aces, won 83% of her first serve points and broke Yastremska’s serve four times.

Osaka moves to the quarterfinals where she will face Anett Kontaveit, who defeated Marie Bouzkova 6-3, 6-3.

Yastremska, who at 20 was the youngest player left in the women’s draw, made six double faults and won just 38% of her second serves.

In other matches Tuesday, Johanna Konta edged out former winner Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 6-2 to book her spot in the quarterfinals.

The two former top five players battled for 80 minutes with Konta hitting five aces and making just three double faults.

Also on the men’s side, Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, swept past Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-3.