Top seed Ashleigh Barty insisted nerves did not get the better of her as she let slip a 5-2 lead in the third set to bow out of the US Open after a shock third round loss to Shelby Rogers on Saturday.

World number 43 Rogers stunned the 2021 Wimbledon champion 6-2 1-6 7-6 (7-5) in a seesawing contest that lasted two hours and eight minutes.

Barty had a double-break lead in the third set and served for the match, before Rogers stormed back to win the next four games and triumph in a tie-break in front of a raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd who cheered home the American.

It was the fourth time in the tournament that Barty had been broken serving for the match.

"No, I felt comfortable on the court," Barty told reporters when asked if there was an element of nerves. "I think that tension is natural. But I felt fine.

"I just didn't quite have enough physically or mentally in the tank but that's okay.

"We've had a great year so far. We're looking forward to celebrating the good stuff that we've done, learning from the hurt, learning from the experiences, and moving on."

Barty's third round exit adds to her ordinary record at Flushing Meadows, having never progressed further than the fourth round.

The Australian, who was absent from the US Open in 2020, was beaten by China's Wang Qiang in the 2019 fourth round as second seed, and went down to Karolina Pliskova at the same stage in 2018.

Barty would not be drawn on her record at Flushing Meadows, instead preferring to focus on her strong year, having been on the road for the past six months.

"The last six months have been a roller coaster," she said. "I think back to the very first match that I played on this trip. I was 5-2 down in the third set in the first round of Miami. Tennis has a funny way of evening things out, doesn't it?

"You can't win every single tennis match that you play. I'm proud of myself and my team for all the efforts we've put in in the last six months. It's been pretty incredible. I don't think we could have asked for much more honestly. I wouldn't change a thing.

"With all of the tough moments that we have had, it's created some of the most enjoyable experiences. I've learnt so much about myself, about them, the way that we work together. It's been truly an incredible six months."

Rogers becomes the first American woman to defeat the world number one in the first week of a major tournament since 1994, when Steffi Graf was shocked by Lori McNeil.

"I'm not sure I can," Rogers said on-court when asked how to describe the comeback from 5-2 down. "I tried to fight for every point. I didn’t want to leave, I said 'make balls, try to stay in this match'."

Rogers will face impressive British qualifier Emma Raducanu in the fourth round, while Barty confirmed she will now take a break but play at next month's Indian Wells.

Novak Djokovic powered through to week two of the US Open by sinking Kei Nishikori, a player who must be sick of the sight of the Serbian.

For a 17th consecutive time in their rivalry, Djokovic beat the former world number four, who was runner-up at this tournament seven years ago.

A 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory in three hours and 33 minutes for Djokovic moves him into the fourth round, ever closer to the calendar Grand Slam he is chasing, having already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.

Nishikori beat Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals in 2014, before losing to Marin Cilic in the final, but that was the last time he got the better of the man from Belgrade.

Djokovic won their 2018 semi-final at Flushing Meadows for the loss of just nine games and a 6-2 6-0 win for the world number one over Japan's Nishikori at the Tokyo Olympics in July suggested this latest clash in New York, the 20th between them, could be similarly one-sided.

Yet it became clear early in this clash that Djokovic faced a substantial test. He trailed 4-2 in the opener and could not save the set, despite forcing a tie-break. A stunning lob from Nishikori gave him two serves for the set, and he held his nerve to move in front.

Djokovic broke in the third game of the second set though and staved off a flurry of break-back points on his way to levelling the match.

When Nishikori served a double fault to allow Djokovic two break points in game four of the third set, it was inviting trouble. Djokovic won the second of those when his low slice and net rush prompted Nishikori to net a backhand.

Against the flow of the match, Nishikori broke back, helped by two consecutive double faults, but order was restored as Djokovic rolled through the next two games to move a set away from the next round.

Nishikori probably needed Djokovic's body to fail him, or for something as bizarre as last year's disqualification to occur, but nothing of the sort happened in set four, the world's best player in a class of his own.

Djokovic said: "I don't think I started off very well. I was too passive and too far back in the court and he was dictating the play. It took me a little bit of time to adjust to his game.

"By the beginning of the second set I felt like I was getting my groove back, getting my rhythm back. I was very pleased with my focus."

DATA SLAM

Nishikori will look back to the second set and ponder 'what if?', because he had seven break points and took none of them. Djokovic had three in that set and took two, and there lies greatness. Tennis comes down to taking chances as they arrive, being clinical, and after the chaos of the first set this was a ruthless Djokovic show.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 45/52
Nishikori – 38/56

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 15/7
Nishikori – 6/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 7/16
Nishikori – 2/13

Sloane Stephens has detailed the online abuse she received after exiting the US Open to Angelique Kerber.

Stephens, who won at Flushing Meadows in 2017, was beaten 5-7 6-2 6-3 in the third round on Friday by three-time major champion Kerber.

The American had defeated outstanding teenager Coco Gauff in her previous match but could not maintain a title challenge in New York.

It was a defeat that prompted a shocking response on social media, Stephens revealed on Saturday.

"I am human," she wrote on her Instagram story. "After last night's match I got [more than 2,000] messages of abuse/anger from people upset by yesterday's result.

"It's so hard to read messages like these, but I'll post a few so you guys can see what it's like after a loss..."

Stephens then shared screenshots of a series of threatening, racist and misogynistic messages aimed in her direction.

She added: "This type of hate is so exhausting and never ending. This isn't talked about enough, but it really freaking sucks...

"I'm happy to have people in my corner who support me. I'm choosing positive vibes over negative ones.

"I choose to show you guys happiness on here, but it's not always smiles and roses."

Emma Raducanu came within one point of a sensational double bagel against Sara Sorribes Tormo and could face Ash Barty next at the US Open.

The 18-year-old Briton came through qualifying to make her Flushing Meadows bow this week.

And now Raducanu is remarkably into week two without dropping a set.

She saved her best performance yet for round three, winning 6-0 6-1 after passing up a match point on Sorribes Tormo's serve that would have sealed a flawless result.

Her place in the fourth round was a fine consolation for Raducanu, who reached the same stage at Wimbledon in July, then appearing in a grand slam main draw for the first time.

A match against Ajla Tomljanovic proved a step too far at the All England Club, but Raducanu may now get an opportunity to advance against another Australian.

If Barty beats Shelby Rogers later on Saturday, the world number one will face Raducanu next week – presumably far away from the Court 17 the teenager was consigned to on this occasion.

Given Sorribes Tormo beat Barty in straight sets in the first round of this year's Olympic Games, Raducanu should have nothing to fear.

"It's been two weeks in New York now," she told Prime Video. "And into the third week – I never thought I'd be here, but I'm just so, so excited."

Raducanu said of her latest triumph: "I was playing very well. I know Sara is an extremely tough opponent – she doesn't make a mistake, so you have to be on your game every single point.

"I had to work so hard, and there were some really, really long deuce games that could have gone either way, so I'm just really happy that I managed to maintain and stay on it and win in the end."

It was a far more comprehensive success than Raducanu was willing to admit, though, with the world number 150 having 11 break point opportunities to her opponent's zero.

Raducanu's blistering forehand averaged 92 miles per hour on serve, while she played 23 winners.

"Honestly, for this one, the plan was I had to hit through her, I had to hit the corners," she added. "If you trade against her, you're probably going to come out second best.

"I just took the game to her and hit more winners than errors today."

Leylah Fernandez revealed how the energy of the Flushing Meadows crowd helped power her to a stunning comeback win over Naomi Osaka at the US Open. 

Reigning champion Osaka appeared on course to progress when up a set and serving for the match at Arthur Ashe Stadium, only to let the opportunity slip away. 

The world number three lost her serve and then also her composure in the tie-break that followed, throwing her racquet on more than one occasion as Fernandez prevailed to force a decider. 

The Canadian teenager broke immediately at the start of the third set and retained that advantage through to the finish, allowing her to complete a famous victory in New York. 

"I wasn't really focused on Naomi, I was focused on my game and what I needed to do," Fernandez told the media. 

"Having the crowd there, supporting me, backing me up after every point, it was amazing. It gave me the energy to keep fighting, keep working, keep running for those balls that she hit.

"I was just glad that I was able to put on a show for everyone who came to watch."

The 18-year-old also explained how she has always had a competitive streak, adding: "From a very young age, I knew I was able to beat anyone who was in front of me.

"Even playing different sports, I was always that competitive and saying I was going to win against them, win against my dad in soccer, even though that was impossible, I've always had that belief, tried to use that in every match when I go on. I guess today that belief came true."

Osaka announced in her post-match media duties that she plans to "take a break from playing for a while", as well as apologising for her outbursts on court.

She received a warning for hitting a ball into the stands but appeared set to launch a fightback of her own in the deciding set, only for the impressive Fernandez to hold firm.

"I've watched her win the US Open, I've watched her win the Australian Open the very next year – just seeing her, learning from her, has helped shape my game," Fernandez said of Osaka.

"She is a great example for anybody on Tour, and all the little girls in the world.  

"I'm just glad I had the opportunity to play against her, show everyone I am also able to compete against the best players out there."

Naomi Osaka's short-term future appears away from the tennis court after the tearful former world number one said she plans to "take a break from playing for a while" following her shock US Open elimination.

Osaka's US Open title defence came to a remarkable end after imploding in Friday's surprise 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 loss to teenage sensation Leylah Fernandez.

Up a set and serving for the match at 6-5 on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Osaka lost her cool and composure after throwing her racquet three times in an unsuccessful second-set tie-break.

Amid boos in New York, Osaka was also warned after hitting a ball into the crowd and while the four-time major champion tried to dig herself out of a hole, she crashed out in incredible fashion.

It comes following a difficult couple of months due to mental health concerns as a result of "long bouts of depression" since winning the 2018 US Open.

Osaka withdrew from May's French Open having won her first-round match, after she was fined and threatened with further punishment – and possible expulsion from the grand slam – for skipping obligatory media duties.

The Japanese star subsequently pulled out of Wimbledon before returning for the Olympic Games, though she suffered a surprise loss on home soil in Tokyo and was reduced to tears during a news conference in Cincinnati.

During an emotional post-match news conference, Osaka told reporters: "I'm going to say what we said, I think, like, in the hallway. How do I go around saying this?

"I feel like for me recently, like, when I win I don't feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don't think that's normal. I didn't really want to cry.

"I feel like… this is very hard to articulate. I feel like I'm kind of at this point where I'm trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match [tearing up]. Sorry."

Osaka – who was bidding to become the first woman to defend the US Open since Serena Williams in 2014 – added: "I think I'm going to take a break from playing for a while."

Typically reserved and quiet, Osaka was uncharacteristically frustrated on court – the 23-year-old immediately left the court and emerged with a towel over her head before the start of the final set.

On her outburst, Osaka said: "I'm really sorry about that. I'm really sorry about that. I'm not really sure why.

"I was telling myself to be calm, but I feel like maybe there was a boiling point. Like normally I feel like I like challenges. But recently I feel very anxious when things don't go my way, and I feel like you can feel that. I'm not really sure why it happens the way it happens now.

"It's basically why. You could kind of see that. I was kind of like a little kid."

Carlos Alcaraz was lost for words after making history in the Spanish teenager's shock five-set upset of world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open.

Alcaraz – rated by many as Spain's best young male player since 20-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal first emerged – sent Tsitsipas packing 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 0-6 7-6 (7-5) in the third round on Friday.

The 18-year-old Alcaraz became the youngest player to reach the last 16 of the US Open since Americans Michael Chang and Pete Sampras in 1989.

Alcaraz also became the youngest man to beat a top-three opponent at the tournament since the ATP introduced its world ranking system in 1973.

After more than four hours on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Alcaraz told reporters: "I have not words to explain how I feeling right now.

"I just don't know what happened out there in the court. I can't believe that I beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in an epic match.

"For me it's a dream come true."

Amid comparisons with countryman Nadal, Alcaraz added: "Honestly I don't copy any style of a players. I just play my game.

"But if I have to say one player that is similar my game, I think it's [Roger] Federer. I think similar as mine game, trying to be aggressive all the time. I think it's a good similar for me."

After his US Open campaign came to a surprise end, third seed Tsitsipas tipped Alcaraz for future success.

"A hundred percent," Tsitsipas replied when asked if he had a sense of Alcaraz's potential. "I said he can be a contender for Grand Slam titles. He has the game to be there."

"I've never seen someone hit the ball so hard," French Open runner-up Tsitsipas added. "Took time to adjust. Took time to kind of develop my game around his game style.

"It's one of these matches and one of these feelings where, you know, you pick up at some point of the match, you feel like you're in control, and it doesn't really go your way at the end.

"It's kind of bitter, I would say, especially after such an incredible first set by my side, dominating, being just so aggressive, not dwelling on the past. It was a great first set.

"I don't know. I felt like he played the fifth one completely -- the way he played the first set basically, careless, going for every single shot. I have never seen someone play such a good fifth set, honestly."

Naomi Osaka's quest for back-to-back US Open crowns came to a shock end, the defending champion imploding in a remarkable 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 loss to teenage sensation Leylah Fernandez.

Up a set and 6-5, Osaka had the chance to close out the third-round contest before the four-time major champion suffered an epic meltdown on Arthur Ashe Stadium, where fans booed the titleholder.

Osaka – typically reserved and quiet but in the spotlight amid her mental health concerns after withdrawing from the French Open, having skipped Wimbledon – threw her racquet three times in the unsuccessful second-set tie-break on Friday.

The Japanese star received a warning after hitting a ball into the crowd in the final set and while she tried to dig herself out of a hole, 18-year-old Canadian Fernandez completed a stunning upset in New York.

Fernandez showed no fear in her first career meeting with Osaka, going toe-to-toe against the former world number one.

There were no breaks of serve through nine games – Osaka serving to stay in the set at 5-4 and she did so easily before flicking the switch.

Osaka broke to love in the very next game, reeling off nine successive points to take the opening set.

In the third round of the US Open for the first time and with a 1-2 record against top-10 players, Fernandez was not overawed on the big stage.

Behind her big first serve and powerful baseline hitting, Fernandez ensured the second set followed a similar pattern as Osaka was prevented from racing away with the match.

It appeared as though the second set would go down the same path as the first after Osaka broke for a 6-5 lead.

But Osaka imploded on centre court – after failing to serve out the match, she lost her composure in the tie-break, throwing her racquet on numerous occasions as Fernandez forced a deciding set with ease.

Osaka immediately left the court and emerged with a towel over her head before the start of the final set, however, she still looked off her game, broken in the opener.

Continuing to struggle, Osaka was then given a warning for hitting the ball into the crowd, though she boosted her confidence by holding serve and avoiding falling 3-0 behind.

But Fernandez's sole break point was all she needed, sending the defending champion home, much to the delight of the crowd.

 

 

Data slam: Fernandez steps up

Her only top-10 victory came against Belinda Benic at the 2020 Billie Jean Cup, having lost to Elina Svitolina and Sofia Kenin last year. But Fernandez claimed the unlikely scalp of Osaka on Friday. The result also ended Osaka's bid to come the first woman to defending the US Open since Serena Williams in 2014.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Fernandez – 28/24
Osaka – 37/35

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Fernandez – 6/2
Osaka – 15/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Fernandez – 2/5
Osaka – 2/5

Carlos Alcaraz put his name up in lights in New York as the 18-year-old stunned third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a massive US Open third-round upset.

Spanish teenager Alcaraz scored an astounding 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 0-6 7-6 (7-5) victory in a battle lasting four hours, seven minutes inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday.

French Open runner-up Tsitsipas became the biggest casualty of the men's tournament so far as hot prospect Alcaraz showed his mettle on the grand slam stage at Flushing Meadows.

It means Alcaraz, rated by many as Spain's best young male player since Rafael Nadal first emerged, has reached the fourth round of a major for the first time in his career.

He becomes the youngest player to reach the last 16 of the US Open since Americans Michael Chang and Pete Sampras in 1989.

The US Open said the win made Alcaraz the youngest man to beat a top-three opponent at the tournament since the ATP introduced its world ranking system in 1973.

Alcaraz put a dire fourth set behind him and looked to have won the match with a lob at 6-4 in the deciding tie-break, but his ball landed a whisker long.

That meant the players were back on serve, but Alcaraz was unbowed and sealed victory with a scorching forehand winner, announcing himself as a likely superstar of the near future. He struck 61 winners in all.

He will face German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in the fourth round, with a quarter-final place at stake.

Speaking on court after his win, Alcaraz hailed the supportive New York spectators who were firmly in his corner.

"I think without this crowd I haven't the possibility to win this match," he said. "Thank you to you the crowd for pushing me up in the fifth set

"It has been an incredible feeling for me. This victory means a lot to me. It's the best match of my career, the best win.

"For me to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas is a dream come true for me and to do it here is more special."

Novak Djokovic says he was not acting like a "spoiled brat" when he complained about a rowdy spectator during his US Open defeat of Tallon Griekspoor.

World number one Djokovic took another stride towards a first calendar Grand Slam and a record 21st major title by beating Dutchman Griekspoor 6-2 6-3 6-2 in the second round on Thursday.

Top seed Djokovic, who will face Kei Nishikori in the third round, had to contend with a member of the crowd trying to unsettle him in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

He shouted as the Serb went for an overhead smash that he missed and continued to be vocal during points, prompting Djokovic to express his grievances with the chair umpire.

Djokovic feels it is important to make it clear that sort of behaviour should not be tolerated.

"When tennis players talk about that, someone who is watching team sports would say, 'What a spoiled brat'," the three-time US Open champion said.

"But it's a different sport. Look, there's a lot of noise happening on the stadium, particularly in the night sessions. I don't mind that.

"Even sometimes during the point it happens that people out of excitement, they just scream, or they release like a sound or whatever, sigh, whatever you call it. And that's fine.

"But if someone intentionally does it over and over again, then I have tolerance up to a certain point, then it's not correct, then it's not fine. It's not fair. I feel like it's not good for us players.

"I mean, particularly that guy for some reason was calling, raising the sound and kind of screaming just before I would hit my smash, which was a big point. Before that he would do [it] a few times. After that again.

"That wasn't nice. That's all. I don't mind the noise. Don't get me wrong. I think it's important for the entertainment, for the crowds, the music.

"I get it. But if someone does it over and over again, particularly when you are at his side, he knows why he's doing it. The guy that I pointed out, he knew exactly what he was doing, and that's all."

Novak Djokovic welcomed the ongoing 'GOAT' discussion alongside Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer after the world number one took another step towards an historic grand slam title at the US Open.

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer share the most men's slams in history with 20 but the former has the chance to break the record at Flushing Meadows, where the top seed dismantled unheralded Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 6-2 6-3 6-2 in the second round on Thursday.

Serb star Djokovic is also bidding to become just the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and the first to sweep all four majors in a year since Rod Laver in 1969.

It is widely debated who is the greatest player of all time among Djokovic, Nadal and Federer – the latter two are both absent from this year's US Open due to injury.

After reaching the third round in New York, Djokovic was asked who the better player on a neutral surface is, given Nadal's clay-court dominance and Federer's grass-court expertise.

"It's difficult to say who is better. Three of us, we're all so different. We have different styles," Djokovic said during his post-match news conference.

"We have different trajectories or journeys to where we are at this moment. We all had tremendous success, some more particularly on one surface, some the other surface.

"We do complement each other. I think the rivalry between the big three, so to say, it's phenomenal for our sport.

"So the more traction, the more conversation there is around the three of us, the GOAT discussion, et cetera, the better in general for our sport. I hope people still keep on talking about it."

Djokovic added: "I think actually one of the best I think images that I've ever seen from tennis is them [Nadal and Federer] playing on a half-grass, half-clay court.

"I thought that was fantastic. Whoever came up with the idea was genius. As a tennis fan, I enjoyed that very much."

Djokovic hit 33 winners, fired down 13 aces and broke six times throughout a dominant performance against Griekspoor under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights.

The 34-year-old also improved to 53-1 against non-top 100 opponents at majors, while he is now 13-0 against them at the US Open.

Kei Nishikori awaits Djokovic, who owns a 17-2 head-to-head record against the 2014 US Open runner-up.

"We played many times. I have very good score against him," Djokovic said of Nishikori. "I lost I think last time here in New York in semis in 2014. Historically I think his most successful grand slam is here. He's one of the quickest and most-talented players that I've seen in my lifetime, in my career.

"I think it's important for me to serve well and try to take off the pace a little bit because he likes the pace. He likes to hit the ball early, protect the line. But I know his game well. We played in Olympic Games. I know what's expecting me. I look forward to a good challenge."

History-chasing world number one Novak Djokovic cruised through to the third round of the US Open at the expense of Tallon Griekspoor 6-2 6-3 6-2.

Djokovic is bidding to become just the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and the first to sweep all four majors in a year since Rod Laver in 1969.

The top seed, who is also pursuing a record-breaking 21st slam crown – currently level with injured stars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 – outclassed Griekspoor in one hour, 39 minutes on Thursday.

Awaiting Djokovic is 2014 US Open finalist and Japanese star Kei Nishikori in the third round.

Djokovic, who withstood a spirited challenge from Holger Rune in the opening round before the teenager succumbed to cramps, asserted his dominance against Griekspoor from the outset on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Boasting a 14-0 record in second-round matches at the US Open, Djokovic only lost one point on his first serve in the opening set and fired down five aces, while hitting 13 winners and converting two of his three break points.

While world number 121 Griekspoor managed to break Djokovic's serve in the second set, the Serb was typically efficient as he builds towards another shot at history in New York.

Coming to the net more in the third set, Djokovic was determined to get off the court as quickly as possible and he did just that – saving three break points en route to another third-round appearance at the year's final slam.

 

Data slam: Djokovic continues strong record

The 34-year-old came into the contest with a 52-1 slam record against non-top 100 opponents. Djokovic improved to 53-1 – his lone loss to world number 117 Denis Istomin at the 2017 Australian Open – and a perfect 13-0 at the US Open with his straight-sets victory.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 33/20
Griekspoor – 20/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 13/5 
Griekspoor – 5/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 6/10
Griekspoor – 1/4

World number one Ash Barty said her serving struggles are "not a concern" after advancing to the US Open third round.

Barty continued her quest for a third grand slam title and first US Open crown with a 6-1 7-5 win over teenage prodigy Clara Tauson on Thursday.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Barty hit 33 winners and fired down 11 aces to see off the 18-year-old on Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.

Barty, though, had to stave off a late challenge just like the top seed did against Vera Zvonareva in the opening round.

After she faltered to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set of her victory over Tauson, Barty said: "It's happened a few times, but I have won 40-odd matches [this year] and it hasn’t happened a lot.

"It's just a few of those games I haven't been able to get up and hit my spots on first serves.

"When you give good players looks at second serves, you're going to get hurt. It's simple as that. It’s not a concern."

Barty leads the WTA Tour this season for titles won (five), match victories (42), finals reached (six), aces (319) and top-10 wins (seven).

"There's room for improvement, without a doubt, but there's room for improvement every single day," said Barty, who has never reached the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows.

"Credit to her, she was a little bit more aggressive in that second set. I got a little bit passive and just let my energy drop and allowed her back in.

"We'll go back and have a chat about the matches and, once we get back on the practice court, try and fix a few things up, trust myself and trying to continue to play how I want to play."

Next up for Australian star Barty is either 2020 US Open quarter-finalist Shelby Rogers or Sorana Cirstea.

Alexander Zverev believes his comeback victory over Novak Djokovic at the Olympics has paved the way for his fine start at the US Open.

Zverev came from a set down to defeat world number one Djokovic 1-6 6-3 6-1 at the semi-final stage in Tokyo, with the German going on to claim gold by beating Karen Khachanov in straight sets.

The world number four carried the winning form to Cincinnati, triumphing at the Western and Southern Open, and has made a smooth start at Flushing Meadows, where he lost out to Dominic Thiem in last year's final.

Zverev did not offer up a single break point in a dominant first-round win over Sam Querrey, and lost only four games when cruising past Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1 6-0 6-3 on Thursday.

"The process started at the Olympics for me, and the match against Novak," Zverev told reporters.

"That kind of started it off, because I was down badly, and I managed to win with great tennis.

"It was very important for me to kind of back it up in Cincinnati, because a lot of the times players that for the first time in their career win something really big like a grand slam title or a gold medal, they do tend to go downhill a little bit.

"So it was important for me to go to Cincinnati, to a place where I have never won a match before this year, and have a great tournament."

Another motivation for Zverev is the cruel fashion in which he lost to Thiem last year, when he surrendered a two-set lead.

"I mean I was the first man in 785 years to lose a US Open from two sets to love up and being a break up in the third set, serving for it in the fifth set, being two points away multiple times, it was painful," Zverev said with a smile.

"I still remember it, I remember it every single time I walk on this board but I take it as motivation because I'm back here to hopefully play a great tournament and win a grand slam title, that's what I’m here to do."

Zverev has now tallied up 40 wins in 2021 and 13 on the bounce, though the 24-year-old - who could meet Djokovic in the semi-finals - knows he has to maintain his strong service game to keep his best tennis.

"My serve is kind of the key to my game. When it's working I'm playing great. When it's not, I'm losing matches like I did at Wimbledon," he said.

"It's no secret that my serve is probably the most important shot in my game, and I'm happy with how it's working. The matches are not going to get easier and I will need that to be my weapon.

"I think it was always a problem of mine at the beginning of my career that I always spent a lot of hours, a lot of time in the beginning of grand slam tournaments. So it's nice to have two matches, winning [them] in straight sets."

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