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Novak Djokovic breezes through third round at U.S. Open

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns a shot to Julien

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns a shot to Julien Benneteau, of France, in the third round of play at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. (Sept. 2, 2012) Credit: AP

To most of the 128 players in a Grand Slam tournament's singles draw, the road to the final is a treacherous maze of twists and surprises. But for defending U.S. Open men's champion Novak Djokovic, this year's event has been a superhighway.

Sunday was another cruise-control affair for Djokovic, a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 third-round romp over 30-year-old Frenchman Julien Benneteau, the No. 31 seed. It took one hour and 37 minutes, though it was the first time in his three matches that Djokovic, the No. 2 seed, has lost more than two games in one set.

It set him up for a fourth-round match against No. 18 seed Stanislas Wawrinka, the second-best player from Switzerland, but no Roger Federer.

Wawrinka Sunday eliminated No. 14 Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

So efficient was Djokovic -- 41 winners to Benneteau's 15, only 12 unforced errors to Benneteau's 22, not a single break point allowed on his serve -- that he continued to move through the bracket almost silently.

"I have had situations and periods in my career where I was under the radar, where I was in the spotlight, if you want to call it that," Djokovic said.

"I really try not to pay attention on that too much. The attention comes and goes. It's normal. This is sport."

Scheduled for a rare 11 a.m. match Sunday, Djokovic was gone from the scene not long after lunch after one observer noted that he hadn't appeared to shave.

"Thanks for reminding me of that," Djokovic said. "I will make sure next time I'm looking nice and shaved.

"You know, 11:00, I haven't played the first match of the day session for a long time, so it's not that easy. Not always the morning person, to be honest. You try to go to bed early and try to wake up early and get your body moving. As I said, I wanted to start very sharp from the first point, and I did that."

Not that any of the men's third-round matches were very drawn-out Sunday.

No. 4 David Ferrer of Spain was tested the most in a 7-6 (9), 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 decision over Australian Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 Open champ, who still is grinding away at 31 and ranked 125th in the world.

No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro dispensed with Leonardo Mayer, his fellow Argentine ranked 63rd, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (9). No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia defeated Grega Zemlja of Slovenia, ranked 100th, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

And No. 13 Richard Gasquet of France ended the nice run by the reigning NCAA champion from USC, Steve Johnson, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-3, in the third round.

New York Sports