Novak Djokovic struggled but advanced within three matches to complete the first men’s singles calendar year Grand Slam in 52 years, defeating American Jensen Brooksby at the US Open.
World number one Djokovic defeated 99th-ranked Brooksby 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals of the July Wimbledon final against Italian sixth seed Matteo Barretini.
Djokovic said it would be interesting. “He loves the big stage. Great service, great game overall. I know what to expect. I’m trying to come up with a good game plan and hope for the best.”
The 34-year-old Serbian star will become the first person to win all four major titles in a single year, winning the fourth US Open crown in his first career since Rod Lever in 1969.
Djokovic is looking for a record 21st men’s singles trophy, which will put him ahead of “Big Three” rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both of whom were absent due to injuries.
An epic shock came when 20-year-old American wildcard Brooksby, who had not played Djokovic before, broke in the second and sixth games, knocking out the winner of the service in 29 minutes to take the first set.
“He just played a great first set,” Djokovic said. “There was nothing I could do.” I was still trying to find my way in court.
“I must say it wasn’t a good start. Jensen was pumped. He had a clear game plan. He was doing his shots brilliantly. I was on my back foot. He was a half. I was reading the play well up to the set. “
Djokovic broke in the second game of the second set, but the 20-minute electrifying broke in the fifth game.
But Djokovic lost in the sixth game, giving the cross-court four-hand winner a 4-2 lead, and a 68-minute set from there.
“After that, I started beating more cleanly and through the court,” Djokovic said. “Whenever I needed a service I found my place well. It was a physical, very tiring rally.”
Overall, Djokovic has won 15 of the last 20 games, winning the Stamina Test after a marathon break service, two hours and 59 minutes later.
Beretini defeated 144th-ranked German qualifier Oscar Ote 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Tokyo Olympic champion Alexander Zverev and Belinda Bank won the straight sets, as did 18-year-old British qualifier Emma Radukano.
German fourth seed Zverev defeated Italian 13th seed Jenk Sunner 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) to extend his winning streak to 15 matches.
Swiss 11th seed Bank defeated 7th seed Ega Svetic of Poland, last year’s French Open champion, 7-6 (14/12), 6-3.
And the 150th-ranked Radukano defeated the 43rd-ranked American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-1 in 66 minutes.
Radukano is only the third qualifier to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open after Estonia’s Kaya Kanepi in 2017 and Barbara Gerkin of the United States in 1981.
Last year, US Open runner-up Xavier reached the quarterfinals of the seventh slam of his career and the fourth of the last five slam.
Xavier saved two set points on his serve in the 12th game of the third set and three more points in the tiebreaker before Sunnar put a forehand to end matters after two hours and 25 minutes.
“It’s been the last few months for me,” Xavier said. “Players know with confidence what to do in these situations. I’m happy to go straight.”
Xavier’s next match will be against 46th seed Lloyd Harris of South Africa, who defeated 22nd seed Riley Opelka 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.
The Swede defeated Bensk in their first match in the Adelaide final in February, but the Swiss have not lost a single seat this week and have only broken three.
“I’ve improved my game a lot,” Bensk said. “I’m glad I turned it over and passed.”
Bensick plays the next US Open debutant, Radukano, who has not lost a single seat in four matches, and easily eliminated the woman who replaced top-ranked Wimbledon champion Ashley Barty.
“Belinda is a great player who is in great form,” Radukano said. “I just want to bring it.”
Czech fourth seed Carolina Pliskova, this year’s Wimbledon runner-up, defeated 14th seed Anastasia Pavlochenkova of Russia 7-5, 6-4.
Her next match will be against 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andresco, Canada’s sixth seed or Greek 17th seed Maria Sakari.