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U.S. Open: Novak Djokovic overcomes heat, demons, wins in five

August 31, 2010 |  3:53 pm


Third-seeded Novak Djokovic has never kept it a secret -- he has issues with catching his breath, especially when it's very hot.

It was very hot at the U.S. Open on Tuesday -- it hit 102 degrees on the court during Djokovic's first-round match against Serbian Davis Cup teammate Victor Troicki, and when Troicki won the second and third sets and went up a service break in the fourth, it seemed as if two-time Open semifinalst and one-time finalist Djokovic might just slow down and leave as a first-round loser.

Except that he didn't. Saying he was "very proud of himself," and comparing his feelings when some shade finally arrived on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the fifth set as something akin to when, "I sleep with my girlfriend," Djokovic pulled out a 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 win.

Even in the heat Djokovic wasn't the only seeded player taken to five sets.

Mardy Fish, seeded 19th and hoping that a new focus on fitness that allowed him to lose 30 pounds and move better would help him go deep into this tournament, had to come from two-sets-to-one deficit before beating Jan Hajek, 6-0, 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1. Fish said he wasn't really even tired afterward, though he did start to think in the third set that he would be embarrassed to be leaving after the first round.

That's what happened to 16th-seeded Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus. Baghdatis, who had come here confident after a summer season where he got to the finals in Washington and the semifinals in Cincinnati, shrugged his shoulders and said his body felt "heavy" after a 6-3, 2-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss to 32-year-old Arnaud Clement.

-- Diane Pucin, reporting from New York

Photo: Novak Djokovic reacts after winning his first-round match at the U.S. Open on Tuesday. Credit: Andrew Gombert / EPA