Novak Djokovic of Serbia after beating Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina in the second round on day three of the 2019 U.S. Open. Photo: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK – Reigning champion Novak Djokovic battled a shoulder problem that hampered his serve and backhand as he secured a 6-4 7-6 (3) 6-1 win over Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero and reached the third round of the U.S. Open on Wednesday.

Djokovic, who had work done on his left shoulder during his pre-match warm-up inside Arthur Ashe Stadium earlier in the day, was in clear distress when he took a medical timeout while leading 4-3 in the first set.

“I was definitely tested and this is something I have been carrying for quite a while now,” Djokovic said when asked about the injury.

“It wasn't easy, obviously, playing with the pain but you have to find a way to fight and hope you get some lucky shots.”

Djokovic returned returned to court to close out the first set and then had more treatment before Londero, playing in only his second main draw match at Flushing Meadows, broke him twice for a 3-0 lead in the second.

Novak Djokovic gets help from a trainer between games while playing Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina in the second round on day three of the 2019 U.S. Open. Photo: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

So bothered was Djokovic by his backhand that in the third game of the second set, at 30-30 and with Londero well out of position, he failed to get even a soft backhand to the open court over the net.

But he roared back to take the next five games, a stretch during which he managed to fire off a number of backhand winners, en route to strolling through the tiebreak before getting more treatment on his shoulder.

While Djokovic was nowhere near his best, Londero, who is in the midst of a breakout season that saw him win his first title, will be happy to have played at such a high level in his first career meeting with the Serbian.

Up next for Djokovic, who has won four of the last five Grand Slams, will be either fellow Serbian Dusan Lajovic, the 27th seed, or American Denis Kudla, who were unable to play their match earlier because of inclement weather. 

Reuters