NEW YORK—When Novak Djokovic was asked about his 20-1 night-match record on Arthur Ashe Stadium following his 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jerzy Janowicz, the Serb decided to wax poetic.
“Let me choose my words carefully,” Djokovic said. “I feel like when I step in here, it’s a dark tunnel. But there’s always a light.”
Djokovic’s flowery language was also an appropriate way to sum up this difficult opening-round test. For starters, Djokovic took an injury timeout after just five games, with the trainer working on his arm. The apparent injury didn’t hinder Djokovic for the remainder of the first set, but it resurfaced when Djokovic faced a set point in the second.
At 5-6, ad-out, Djokovic leapt forward to hit a second serve and labored more than he seems to in the entirety of his first-round matches at majors—typically one-sided routs. Not on Monday night, and the awkwardness of that shot was only surpassed by the forehand he sailed long on his very next shot. Janowicz, ranked 247th in the world, was now in a best-of-three-set match with the world No. 1.