'Novak Djokovic is a machine,' his rival opens up



by JOVICA ILIC

'Novak Djokovic is a machine,' his rival opens up
'Novak Djokovic is a machine,' his rival opens up © Matthew Stockman / Staff -¬†Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic is battling against Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the US Open second round. Novak and Bernabe are facing for the first time, and a 23-time Major winner is the clear favorite to emerge at the top and advance into the third round.

The Spaniard praised the Serb ahead of their clash, calling Novak a machine and one of the greatest players ever. Zapata Miralles faced the 19-year-old Ethan Quinn in the first round and beat a teenager in straight sets to arrange the clash against the most decorated player of all time.

Novak faced Alexandre Muller in the first round and delivered an impressive 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 victory in an hour and 35 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Djokovic served at 53% and faced only one break point. He stole over half of the return points, converting them into eight breaks from 13 chances and sailing over the top.

Novak played aggressive tennis, delivering 32 winners and 23 unforced errors to control the pace and move through. Muller saved a break point in the encounter's opening game before Djokovic seized the second after the rival's backhand mistake.

Novak held at love with a forehand crosscourt winner and stole the rival's serve for the second time in game three with a volley winner at the net. The Serb took the fourth game with a volley winner at the net and broke his opponent again for 5-0.

Djokovic served for the opener in game six and landed an ace down the T line, producing a bagel in 23 minutes and making a perfect start. Novak cracked a backhand down the line winner at the beginning of the second set for his fourth break of serve in a row.

Bernabe Zapata Miralles praised Novak Djokovic ahead of their duel.

The Serb rattled off eight games before the Frenchman finally held at 0-2 to get his name on the scoreboard. Djokovic landed a forehand down the line winner in the fifth game that sent him 4-1 in front.

He lost serve for the first and only time in the sixth game before clinching another break for a 5-2 lead. Novak served for the set in game eight and held at 30 to forge a 6-0, 6-2 advantage in an hour. Muller found the rhythm behind the initial shot in the third set, producing three holds at love and following Djokovic's pace.

Novak stayed calm and earned a break at 3-3 after Alexandre's forehand error. The Frenchman served to stay in the match at 3-5, hitting a double fault to experience another break and push the Serb over the top. "I think I must be relaxed; I have nothing to lose against Novak, and I do not feel too nervous.

For me, it's just another match of my career. Novak is a machine; he is an incredible player, one of the best in history. I feel more comfortable on clay, and it will not be easy against Novak on hard court," Bernabe Zapata Miralles said.

Novak Djokovic Bernabe Zapata Miralles Us Open