After missing last year’s US Open due to elbow injury, Novak Djokovic returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time since finishing runner-up to Stan Wawrinka in 2016 final.

The sixth seed survived a gruelling fitness test under the scorching New York sun to progress into the second round on Tuesday.

Novak defeated world no.41 Marton Fucsovics in four sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 after 2 hours and 58 minutes of play.

Novak and Fucsovics split 6-3 sets as they entered a third set on a very hot afternoon.

Though the Hungarian looked more energetic as he broke in the third game of the third set, Nole fought back five games later to level the contest, and once more in the 10th game to take a two sets to one lead.

Extreme heat policy was in action, and the players took the chance of having a 10-minute break after the third set. Djokovic sailed through the fourth set to win it 6-0.

“I was praying that I got to feel better because I wasn’t feeling great for most of the first three sets,” said Novak. “We obviously both struggled, you could see that. Towards the end of the third we started to play a bit better, at least from my side. Before that it was survival mode, really. It’s the first time I played Marton. He’s a great guy and a great fighter. We played a three-hour match. It’s not easy, but it is what it is.”

Match statistics: aces (4-3), double faults (3-5), winners (30-33), unforced errors (32-40), total points won (115-95).

Novak will meet Tennys Sandgren (ATP #61, H2H 1-0) for a place in the third round. The American outplayed Viktor Troicki in straight sets.

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