NEW YORK — Even as he found himself with his strings attached, Novak Djokovic was ready with the drop shot for Marcos Baghdatis at the end of their men’s doubles match in the third round of the U.S. Open on Monday. This midpoint of a 10-second serve delay was crucial for Djokovic, who was coming off a three-set second-round doubles match with his brother, Marko.
“Thanks, guys,” Djokovic said. “You know, the nice delay here. But still really, really difficult.”
The shot served Djokovic well throughout their match — which will be featured in the video below — and helped him and Radek Stepanek to an easy 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory over Baghdatis and Stephane Robert.
David Goffin, the 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 winner over David Marrero, got in a good sweat during the midpoint of his match, too. The Belgian, in his first U.S. Open, must have sensed at first glance that more than just the French Open ball security might be slipping away from him.
Not that it mattered much: Goffin easily disposed of the Spaniard. He served 10 aces, beating Marrero, who came into the tournament having beaten one of the tournament’s favorite doubles teams, Bob and Mike Bryan, for the first time in four tries.
It was something Goffin was able to get a little separation from with the drop shot, his second-best shot — after his serve. Goffin, a rising Belgian, has become one of tennis’s most successful singles players in the past year, and the 22-year-old showed that he has lost none of his appetite for turning out strong doubles sets.
He raised his game during his singles matches at the French Open this year, achieving his first Grand Slam semifinal appearance. Not only did he advance to the semifinals in New York, he pushed Andy Murray — another rising Belgian — to the limit in the third round.
It turns out, he said, that winning a lot of titles in doubles has helped him mature.
“The doubles is what I love, and I put my effort in doubles, and the results came,” he said. “If you want to have a good opportunity to win Grand Slams, you need to play well. And that’s what I got to do with the doubles.”