The 23-time Grand Slam champion shook off a late start after an opening-night ceremony, racing through the first set in 23 minutes.
“I think the first set I started tremendously well off the blocks,” Djokovic said in his post-match interview.
Djokovic missed the tournament last year, not allowed to travel to the U.S. because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. It was his first match in Flushing Meadows since falling to Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final, a loss that prevented the Serbian from completing a calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969.
“I was excited to go out on the court, it has been a couple of years so to come in front of you guys is always a pleasure,” Djokovic told the New York crowd. “Thanks for coming out and thanks to all the people who stayed to almost 1 a.m.
“Night sessions at Arthur Ashe are always something special.”
Djokovic improved to 17-0 in first-round matches at the US Open and assured he will regain the No. 1 ranking Sept. 11. It will be his 390th week atop the rankings, extending his own record.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.