Tennis: Djokovic overcomes shoulder woes to reach second round of US Open; Nishikori, Barty advance too

Novak Djokovic returns a shot during his Men's Singles second round match against Juan Ignacio Londero at the US Open, on Aug 28, 2019.
Novak Djokovic returns a shot during his Men's Singles second round match against Juan Ignacio Londero at the US Open, on Aug 28, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Reigning champion Novak Djokovic battled a shoulder problem that hampered his serve and backhand but still secured a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 win over Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero and reached the third round of the US Open on Wednesday (Aug 28).

Djokovic, who had work done on his left shoulder during his pre-match warm-up inside Arthur Ashe Stadium earlier in the day, was in clear distress when he took a medical timeout while leading 4-3 in the first set.

"I was definitely tested and this is something I have been carrying for quite a while now," he said when asked about the injury. "It wasn't easy, obviously, playing with the pain but you have to find a way to fight and hope you get some lucky shots."

Djokovic returned to court to close out the first set and then had more treatment before Londero, playing in only his second main-draw match at Flushing Meadows, broke him twice for a 3-0 lead in the second.

So bothered was Djokovic by his backhand that in the third game of the second set, at 30-30 and with Londero well out of position, he failed to get even a soft backhand to the open court over the net.

But he roared back to take the next five games, a stretch during which he managed to fire off a number of backhand winners, en route to strolling through the tiebreak before getting more treatment on his shoulder.

While Djokovic was nowhere near his best, Londero, who is in the midst of a breakout season that saw him win his first title, will be happy to have played at such a high level in his first career meeting with the Serb.

Up next for Djokovic, who has won four of the last five Grand Slams, will be either fellow Serbian Dusan Lajovic, the 27th seed, or American Denis Kudla, who were unable to play their match earlier because of inclement weather.

Japan's Kei Nishikori survived an onslaught from unseeded American Bradley Klahn to move into the third round with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory.

Klahn broke four times and saved four match points before the Japanese wrapped up the match in the fourth set after 2hr 43min on court.

Women's second seed Ash Barty fought off a stiff challenge at the end of the second set to beat American Lauren Davis 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).

The French Open champion came to the net to great effect, used her slice to dictate the pace of the contest and fired 35 winners, 22 more than her opponent, to cut short some of the rallies.

Davis mounted a fierce defensive effort, saving 14 of 18 break points the Australian earned, and had a set point herself at 5-4 in the second stanza at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Barty battled through to a tiebreak, though, and secured the victory when the American went wide with a forehand at the end of another lengthy rally.