NEW YORK (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic, so often the showman who loves the spotlight, raced into the fourth round at the U.S. Open on Sunday but said he was happy to be flying under the radar this year.
The defending champion hammered Julien Benneteau of France 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and has dropped just 14 games in his three matches.
But the second seed has found himself out of the limelight in the first week, with the impending retirement of Andy Roddick and the form of world number one Roger Federer occupying most of the column inches and television discussions.
“I have had situations and periods in my career where I was under the radar and others where I was in the spotlight,” Djokovic said. “I really try not to pay attention to that too much.”
”The attention comes and goes. It’s normal. This is sport. Obviously Andy and his retirement attracted a lot of attention, so everybody is excited to see him play and see how far he can go.
“But I have been playing really well at the U.S. Open in the last five years.”
When Djokovic won the Australian Open in January, he made it four grand slam titles out of the past five events.
Defeat in the semi-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon were considered disappointments because of the standards he had set over the previous 18 months.
But the Serb bounced back to win the Masters 1000 title in Toronto and then reached the final the following week in Cincinnati.
”In the seven, eight days I had off after the Cincinnati final, my goal was to really try to recover, charge my batteries, work on some things in my game, and come out strong from the start.
“That’s what I’ve done. I feel great on the court. I‘m really trying to keep that up.”
Having become so used to the big stage, including playing in the “box-office” night sessions, Djokovic admitted that playing the first match of the day was a little different.
”I haven’t played the first match of the day session for a long time, so it’s not that easy,“ he said. ”I am not always the morning person, to be honest.
“But I wanted to start very sharp from the first point, and I’ve done that.”
Editing by Steve Ginsburg