NEW YORK, Aug 25: Bothered by a bad neck that a trainer massaged twice, Novak Djokovic double-faulted seven times and trailed by a break in each set before avoiding the rash of upsets at the Western & Southern Open by taking the last four games for a 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Ricardas Berankis.
The No. 1-ranked Djokovic was playing his first ATP match in six months because of the coronavirus pandemic; he pulled out of the doubles event on Sunday because of his neck.
�I�m trying to deal with it on a daily basis,� he said.
�It�s been like that for the past three or four days.�
Still, Djokovic improved to 19-0 in 2020 as he prepares to seek a sixth title from the past eight Grand Slam tournaments when the US Open begins in a week. That major championship�s site in Flushing Meadows is hosting the Ohio-based Western & Southern Open, too, as part of an unusual doubleheader with no spectators.
Djokovic got by, even though he was wincing and stretching his neck between points, then wound up laying on his back � a medical mask and protective glasses on his face � while having his neck manipulated after the first set. � AP