Djokovic energized by N.Y. return, to reclaim No. 1

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NEW YORK — Novak Djokovic made a winning return to the US Open, rolling to a 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Alexandre Muller on Monday night.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion shook off a late start after an opening-night ceremony, racing through the first set in 23 minutes.

“I think the first set I started tremendously well off the blocks,” Djokovic said in his post-match interview.

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Djokovic missed the tournament last year, not allowed to travel to the U.S. because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. It was his first match in Flushing Meadows since falling to Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final, a loss that prevented the Serbian from completing a calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969.

“I was excited to go out on the court, it has been a couple of years so to come in front of you guys is always a pleasure,” Djokovic told the New York crowd. “Thanks for coming out and thanks to all the people who stayed to almost 1 a.m.

“Night sessions at Arthur Ashe are always something special.”

Djokovic improved to 17-0 in first-round matches at the US Open and assured he will regain the No. 1 ranking Sept. 11. It will be his 390th week atop the rankings, extending his own record.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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