|place: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: August 28 – September 10|
|coverage: Daily live text and radio commentary across the BBC Sport website and app, BBC Radio 5 Live and 5 Sports Extra|
Novak Djokovic will replace young rival Carlos Alcaraz as the men’s world No. 1 with a routine victory in his return to the US Open.
Serbian Djokovic, who lost the Wimbledon final to Alcaraz, won 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 over Frenchman Alexander Mueller in a session on Monday evening in New York.
Djokovic, 36, was not allowed to play in the United States last year because he had not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
He came back knowing the other title would be the record-equalling 24th Major.
Djokovic, aiming to equal Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record, made a stellar start by beating 84th-ranked Mueller.
“I started very well,” said Djokovic, who will spend his record-breaking 390th week at the top of the ATP world rankings. .
He added, “In the second and third sets, my serve level dropped and I had to work more to get points. Nevertheless, I played great and I liked the level.”
Having not started until 23:00 local time, the three-time US Open champion showed he did not want to slow down and dropped only eight points in the 23-minute first set.
Mueller raised his arms in celebration when he finally made it 2-1 in the second set but the 26-year-old was unable to stop Djokovic from pushing forward.
Mueller offered more resistance in the third set before Djokovic won the last four games to seal victory in one hour and 34 minutes.
Djokovic, who won the Australian Open and French Open earlier this year, is seeking his fourth title at Flushing Meadows and will play Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Mirales in the second round.
Top seed Alcaraz, 20, won his first major tournament at the US Open in Djokovic’s absence last year and will start his title defense against Germany’s Dominique Kupfer on Tuesday.
Alcaraz and Djokovic are joint favorites for the men’s singles title having developed an impressive rivalry over the past 12 months.
Things were tense at the start of the season, but with the pair absent from the major tournaments, there was little chance for the pair to compete on the court.
And now the competition has heated up over the past few months after three strong encounters in the semi-finals of the French Open, Wimbledon and this month’s Cincinnati final.
Alcaraz and Djokovic can’t meet at the US Open until the final due to their being the top seeds.