Djokovic caps perfect day for centre court seeds

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic capped a perfect Thursday for the favorites at the U.S. Open with an entertaining victory over Germany’s Philipp Petzschner to reach the third round of the year’s final grand slam.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia stretches out to return a backhand to Philipp Petzschner of Germany during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 2, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

Third-seeded Djokovic closed out an irresistible display by the seeds with a lively 7-5 6-3 7-6 win under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The Serb’s victory marked the fifth successive straight-sets win for seeded players on center court, although he was forced to work harder than his predecessors against a spirited opponent armed with a formidable serve.

The keenly contested encounter was 12 games old before Djokovic managed the first service break, taking a lot of energy out of both players and leading to an unusual third set tiebreak where seven points in a row were won against serve.

Djokovic squandered two match points, double-faulting on the first when serving at 6-4 and then hitting a forehand into the net on the second.

The 52nd-ranked Petzschner, who teamed with Austrian Jurgen Melzer to win this year’s Wimbledon doubles title, sailed a second serve return long to end the two-hour 23-minute match.

“He’s a very good player, you have to give him credit,” Djokovic said. “He serves well. He was changing up the pace and not giving me any rhythm. I was just fortunate to hold on.

“It was very shaky at the end of the match but I was just fortunate to hold on.”

The crackling match saw a brief interruption when a fight broke out in the upper deck in which three people were handcuffed and taken away in a dispute over “bad language” according to officials.

Petzschner also seemed a little rattled at times and slugged two balls into the crowd out of frustration.

Djokovic saved the best bit of entertainment for the last in post-match comments on the court.

Exhorted by fans late in the contest to match Swiss master Roger Federer’s famed back-to-the-net, between-the-legs winners as the Serb raced back for a ball against Petzschner, Djokovic instead ripped a backhand winner.

Asked by the interviewer if he had that “tweener shot between your legs,” Djokovic offered a perfectly timed comedy reply.

“No. I have something else between my legs,” he quipped, eliciting roars of laughter and applause from the center court fans.

“But don’t worry, I will not show it to you tonight.”

Djokovic, U.S. Open runner-up to Federer in 2007 and beaten semi-finalist by the Swiss in the last two tournaments, will next face unseeded American James Blake, who advanced against Canadian Peter Polansky.

Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by John O’Brien