NEW YORK — Instead of a third bagel, Novak Djokovic opted for dessert.
The top seed at the U.S. Open punctuated his 6-0, 6-0, 6-2 win over Carlos Berlocq on Thursday night with his sweetest shot of the night: a backward, between-the-legs trick shot that veered low and perfect over the net. Berlocq couldn't handle it, and Djokovic, always the entertainer, cupped his hand to his ear to bask in the applause.
"I played good tennis, tried to win," Djokovic said. "On the other hand, we tried to engage the crowd. It was nice. A lot of entertainment."
Entertaining, indeed, though there was only one dramatic story line: whether Berlocq, ranked 74th, would win a game. Djokovic appeared on track to become the first man to win a U.S. Open match at love, love and love since Ivan Lendl in 1987.
But trailing 2-0 in the third, Berlocq caught a net cord to get a pair of break points. After Djokovic saved the first, Berlocq hit a running backhand winner to get on the board — and a standing ovation from the fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The show-court fans saw little competitive tennis on this day. The five matches were won by a combined score of 72 games to 14. "One of the guys, on the way out, said, 'Listen, I paid 100 bucks and you're only staying for an hour and a half on the court. … Give me a racket or something,' " Djokovic said.
In those other matches, top seed Caroline Wozniacki won the last nine games in a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Arantxa Rus. Serena Williams overwhelmed Michaella Krajicek 6-0, 6-1 — "Did you guys see the match? Or was it too quick?" Krajicek asked reporters afterward — Roger Federer cruised past Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, and Francesca Schiavone handled Mirjana Lucic 6-1 6-1.
Williams was joined in the third round by a larger-than-lately contingent of countrywomen. Two Americans ranked outside the top 100, 18-year-old Sloane Stephens (106) and 21-year-old Vania King (103), knocked off seeded players to give the United States five women in Round 3 for the first time since 2004, when eight made it.
King ousted No. 29 Jarmila Gajdosova 6-2, 6-0. Stephens, daughter of former Patriots running back John Stephens, beat No. 23 Shahar Peer 6-1, 7-6 (7-4). At 18, she's the youngest woman left in the draw and had never won a Grand Slam match until this week.
Venus speaks: Talking for the first time about being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that forced her to withdraw from the Open, Venus Williams reiterated that she plans on returning to tennis. "Sjogren's is something you live with your whole life," she said on ABC's Good Morning America. "I feel like I can get better and move on." There is no cure for Sjogren's. It is treated medicinally along with diet and lifestyle protocols. She said she was diagnosed this summer.