Images from Day 4 of the 2021 US Open, in New York, on Thursday.
Novak Djokovic's bid for a 21st major title that would complete a calendar-year Grand Slam picked up pace on Thursday as the world number one cruised into the US Open third round with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 thrashing of Tallon Griekspoor.
Having shaken off the rust in a spotty four-set opening match against 18-year-old Holger Rune on Tuesday, Djokovic was sharper and much more focused against the 25-year-old Dutchman.
Just like his first round contest Djokovic dominated early on but this time the 34-year-old Serb never let his foot off the gas as he registered his 77th win at the US Open.
Only three men have won more matches at the US Open -- Jimmy Connors (98), Roger Federer (89) and Andre Agassi (79).
Djokovic, playing his first event since the Tokyo Olympics, found the intensity that had been lacking against Rune, speeding through the opening set in 30 minutes.
"I came out on court with the right intensity, the right focus," said Djokovic. "Better definitely than the first-round match.
"It was important I came up with the goods.
"I'm very pleased with the level of my tennis. All is going in the right direction."
The highlight of the evening for Griekspoor came in the second set when he broke Djokovic but the world number one would break right back and then hold serve to take the set and a 2-0 lead.
Griekspoor had rallied from 2-1 down in his opening match to collect his first ever Grand Slam win but there was no coming back against the top seed.
Djokovic then broke Griekspoor twice in the third set before sealing the contest with his 13th ace.
Afterwards Djokovic basked in the applause of the crowd, something he had not done for his opening round victory after the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd had roared on his Danish opponent throughout the match.
After beating two young opponents playing in their first US Open main draw, Djokovic next faces Japan's Kei Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up.
"I have very good score against him," said Djokovic, who swept aside Nishikori 6-2 6-0 in the quarter-finals of the Tokyo Olympics. "He's one of the quickest and most-talented players that I've seen in my career.
"He likes to hit the ball early, protect the line, but I know his game well."
Zverev demolishes Ramos-Vinolas
Alexander Zverev thrashed Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in a brisk 74 minutes, conserving his energy as he rolled through to the third round.
More than half of the German's serves went unreturned in the lop-sided match, after Zverev got a break to kick off the first set and never let up the momentum.
The world number four fired down 11 aces, including three in a row to close out the third set on Arthur Ashe Stadium where he came within two points of triumphing a year ago before losing the final to Austrian Dominic Thiem.
"It was painful and I still remember it," said the newly-crowned Olympic champion. "I take it as motivation because I'm back here, I have the opportunity to do better."
After picking up Masters titles in Madrid and Cincinnati this year, the 24-year-old is among a group of younger players hoping to disrupt world number one Novak Djokovic's bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam.
It was his second straight-sets win at Flushing Meadows this year, after seeing off American Sam Querrey in the first round, and Zverev believes the efficiency could pay dividends later in the tournament.
"It was always a problem of mine in the beginning of my career that I always spent a lot of hours, a lot of time in the beginning of Grand Slam tournaments," said Zverev, who opened his 2020 campaign with three back-to-back four-set matches.
"I played two matches against two good players. I think Sam is a very good player on a hard court, has a lot of titles on hard courts, has beaten great guys here, winning that in straight sets. And Albert as well, Albert is somebody who causes a lot of trouble to top guys."
He faces either American wildcard Jack Sock or Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik in the third round.
Pliskova passes Anisimova test in three-set thriller
Czech fourth seed Karolina Pliskova was on the verge of becoming an early casualty at the U.S. Open but overcame Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7) in a thrilling second round encounter on Thursday.
Pliskova looked in control in the opening set after a single break separated the players but American Anisimova, ranked 75th in the world, forced a decider when she won the second set tiebreak as the Czech made two double faults.
With the home crowd firmly backing Anisimova and cheering every point she won, the New Jersey-born 20-year-old fed off the energy at Arthur Ashe Stadium to save four break points and force another tiebreak.
Pliskova found herself 2-5 down in the tiebreak but she stormed back, saving a match point as Anisimova made three errors to handing the world number four a place in the third round.
"Super tough match, from the first moment she was playing very good," Pliskova said.
"It's difficult to play against you guys," she added, pointing at the crowd.
"Hopefully I don't have an American in the next round, two in a row is a lot... I'm shaking a bit."
Pliskova beat American Caty McNally in the first round. She will next face Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic, who defeated Croatian 30th seed Petra Martic 7-6 (6), 6-4.
Kerber sails through to set up battle of former champions
After an opening match nail-biter Angelique Kerber sailed drama free into the third round, brushing past Anhelina Kalinina 6-3, 6-2 to set up a rematch of former champions.
Kerber had appeared headed for an early Flushing Meadows exit until coming back from a set down to see off Dayana Yastremska 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the first round.
But the 16th-seeded German looked every bit the three-times Grand Slam winner she is on Thursday, speeding past the 76th ranked Ukrainian in 66 minutes to set up a meeting with American Sloane Stephens.
The third-round clash will be an intriguing matchup between 2016 US Open winner Kerber and 2017 champion Stephens.
With just a single ace Kerber did not overpower Kalinina but rather capitalised on almost every break chance, converting five-of-six opportunities while helped by five double faults from her opponent.
World number one Ash Barty stormed into the third round of the US Open by taming Danish teenager Clara Tauson 6-1, 7-5 on Thursday, while the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center mopped up after a night of torrential rain and damaging winds.
A brilliant sun and clear skies greeted Barty and Tauson as they kicked off the action on an Arthur Ashe Stadium court that 12 hours earlier had closed its retractable roof and battened down the hatches as remnants of Hurricane Ida pounded New York, shutting roads and trains in and out of the sprawling facility.
The powerful storm led the National Weather Service to declare a flash flood emergency in New York City for the first time in history.
The impact of the storm was still being felt at the US Open on Thursday, with the start of play delayed by an hour as fans trickled back for morning matches, while crews raced to clear flooded roads and trains slowly returned to service.
Tauson faced another type of storm in the form of top seeded Australian Barty, who threatened to blow the 18-year-old off the court in a lopsided opening set before letting up in the second.
As in her opening round match, a 6-1, 7-6 win over Vera Zvonareva, Barty dominated early on then struggled to deliver the knockout punch.
Owner of five titles this season including her second career Grand Slam at Wimbledon, Barty had 33 winners compared to 14 by Tauson but lacked focus at key moments, converting just five of 19 break opportunities.
Still, the 25-year-old Australian did what was needed to advance to the third round where she will face American Shelby Rogers or Romanian Sorana Cirstea.
Andreescu digs deep for win over Lauren Davis
Former champion Bianca Andreescu overcame a slow start to deliver a gutsy 6-4, 6-4 win over American Lauren Davis in the second round.
The sixth seed was down a break four times during the match but never folded, firing 19 winners at Louis Armstrong Stadium as she bids to recapture the magic of her successful 2019 Flushing Meadows campaign.
The 21-year-old Canadian struggled with her first serve at times and committed three double faults in the second set but was able to convert on all three break point opportunities in the set to secure the win.
"This match wasn't easy at all," said Andreescu, as her Canadian fans cheered from the stands. "It was just a point here and there that really counted."
Andreescu beat Serena Williams in the 2019 final playing in the main draw for the first time but missed the 2020 season due to injury and the challenges of playing in the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said winning a tough three-setter that lasted two hours and 49 minutes against Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic in the opening round on Tuesday had been a real confidence booster.
"Pulling off that first-round match gave me a lot of confidence," Andreescu told reporters. "A lot of it is mental. I haven't played a lot of matches this year. A lot of practice sets and all that, but it's not the same as actually playing in a tournament."
She faces lucky loser Greet Minnen of Belgium in the third round.
Shapovalov advances to third round
World number 10 Shapovalov kept the party going for Flushing Meadows' Canadian cohort, who donned red and white apparel with maple leaf accents, battling past Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena 7-6 (7), 6-3, 6-0.
Shapovalov fired 21 winners in the first set, though he struggled to contain the unforced errors (19).
After sealing the first set in a tiebreak, however, he wrapped up the match in swift fashion, seizing the momentum with a break in the fourth game of the second set.
A demoralized Carballes Baena, who had defeated the Canadian in the second round of Roland-Garros last year, failed to get going in the third set, as Shapovalov did not drop a single first- or second-serve point and got all of his returns in.
"I obviously definitely wanted to get my revenge," said Shapovalov, who joked that he was "more focused on putting a serve on the court" than winning the tiebreak after committing six double faults in the first set.
"For me it’s so much fun and again to play in front of the fans. It’s something we missed," he added.
He faces South Africa's Lloyd Harris in the third round.