Novak Djokovic is looking to extend his unbeaten streak to 25 matches when he goes up against Britain’s Kyle Edmund for a third-round spot at the US Open Wednesday.
The Serbian superstar will bid to take another step towards an 18th Grand Slam inside an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium title at the behind-closed-doors tournament in New York.
Djokovic, 33, who is undefeated in 2020, is looking to close the gap on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both absent from the tournament, in the race for the all-time men’s Slam singles title record.
Djokovic — who won an eighth Australian Open title earlier this year — is on 17, with Nadal on 19 and Federer on 20.
But Djokovic says he is taken nothing for granted against the unseeded Edmund, ranked 44th in the world, on day three at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“I had some really good matches against him in the past, Wimbledon, tough four-setter a few years ago,” Djokovic said of Edmund following his straight-sets first-round win on Monday.
“He doesn’t feel so much pressure I think playing on the big court. He actually likes the challenge. I have a lot of respect for him.
“He’s a really hard worker, puts a lot of hours on and off the court into perfecting his game,” Djokovic added.
In early matches Wednesday, women’s sixth seed Petra Kvitova vanquished Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine 7-6 (7/3), 6-2.
Germany’s Angelique Kerber beat compatriot Anna-Lena Friedsam in straight sets.
The 17th seed won 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) in one hour 40 minutes inside Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Also in the women’s draw, unseeded Russian Varvara Gracheva dumped out French 30th seed Kristina Mladenovic 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0.
Anett Kontaveit of Estonia sailed past Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan, the 14th seed taking just one hour 13 minutes to win 6-4, 6-1.
Also Wednesday, the number one women’s seed Karolina Pliskova does battle with France’s Caroline Garcia.
Pliskova was propelled to the top of the draw by the decisions of world number one Ashleigh Barty and the second-ranked Simona Halep to skip the event because of coronavirus fears.
The US Open is taking place in a spectator-free bubble, resulting in a staid atmosphere in contrast with the usual frenetic energy that pervades the grounds of the tennis center during Open week.
Game-winning points are being met with the odd clap from coaches and admiring glances from rival players watching from their own personal suites in Arthur Ashes.
Crowd noise is piped-in between games while spectators cheering from their sofas at home are shown on “fan cams” at the end of the Arthur Ashe court.
Later, Wednesday, Naomi Osaka, two-time Grand Slam winner and now passionate advocate for racial justice in America, returns to the court for a second-round matchup against Italy’s lowly-ranked Camila Giorgi.
In the men’s competition, fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas plays US wild card Maxime Cressy for a spot in the third round.