Novak Djokovic returns a volley during his match against Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Day 1 of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Monday. (AFP)

NEW YORK (AFP) – Pre-tournament favorite Novak Djokovic marched into round two of the US Open Monday as he launched his bid for a 18th Grand Slam with a straight-sets win.

The world No. 1 dispatched unheralded Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina ,6-1, 6-4,6-1, under floodlights at an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.

The Serbian superstar took just 23 minutes to win the first set before laboring to a narrow victory in an hour-long second set.

With Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer absent, Djokovic is looking to close the gap on them in the race for the all-time men’s singles Grand Slam record.

Djokovic currently has 17, behind Nadal on 19 and Federer on 20.

Adrian Mannarino, also of France, defeated Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted two hours and 41 minutes.

Meantime, Coco Gauff’s hopes of launching another deep run at a Grand Slam ended in the first round with the US teenager succumbing in three sets to Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.

Gauff, who created a sensation at Wimbledon last year when she became the youngest player in the tournament’s history to qualify for the main draw before reaching the fourth round, was beaten 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

The 16-year-old former junior world number one from Delray Beach had battled back to level the match against the 31st-seeded Sevastova after dropping the first set.

Earlier, fifth seed Alexander Zverev was made to work hard as he progressed into round two of the US Open Monday following a three-hour-long tussle with 2017 finalist Kevan Anderson.

The German, seeking his first Grand Slam title, took the first set on a tie-break 7-6 (7/2) before losing the second 7-5 in an eerily empty Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Ultimately, the 23-year-old proved too much for the South African veteran, winning the third set 6-3 and the fourth 7-5.

Afterwards he shared a moment on a big screen with his tennis-playing brother Mischa Zverev who was beamed into the stadium from his sofa at home.

Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas eased into the second round of the Flushing Meadows tournament, which is being played without fans due to coronavirus, with a straight-sets win over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

The Greek player needed just one hour and 38 minutes to dispose of the world number 41, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1.

The 22-year-old Tsitsipas, sixth on the ATP rankings, will play American wildcard Maxime Cressy after he defeated Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, ranked 123 in the world, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Britain’s Cameron Norrie enjoyed one of the day’s most impressive wins, charging back from two sets down to sink Argentine ninth seen Diego Schwartzman, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 7-5.

Elsewhere in the men’s draw on day one, 12th seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov required four sets to overcome US wildcard Sebastian Korda.

The 21-year-old left-hander won the first set 6-4 before losing the second by the same score. But he rallied to win the next two 6-3, 6-2.

Frenchman Gilles Simon enjoyed a straightforward victory over Egypt’s Mohamed Safwat. The 35-year-old triumphed 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

Source: Manila Bulletin (