Top seed Novak Djokovic saved four set points in a marathon first-set tie-break before rolling past Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-6 6-4 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open.
The Serb won the opening set decider 16-14 on his sixth set point, cupping his hand over his ear to encourage the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd’s roars of approval before pumping his fist in joy.
“Winning it was very important,” the world number one said. “That was probably the turning point. After that it was a good performance.”
Djokovic had his hands full figuring out the unorthodox style of his 22-year-old opponent as well as the swirling winds that swept over the National Tennis Center but his straight-sets win meant he still has yet to lose a set in the tournament.
“He played a lot of low balls, slices....I was confused on the court,” he said. “But it was really exciting.”
Djokovic advanced to a quarter-finals clash with his good friend and Davis Cup team mate Janko Tipsarevic, who beat Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 7-5 6-7 7-5 6-2 in a match that lasted nearly four hours.
“It means there’s going to be at least one Serbian in the semi-finals, which is great for our country,” Djokovic said.
“I think this is the first time I play Janko in a Grand Slam. We are great friends. It’s not going to be easy to play him, but look, it’s the quarter-finals and we both want to win.”
In another near four-hour epic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga came from two sets to one down to beat Mardy Fish 6-4 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-2, a topsy-turvy encounter that boasted another marvellous point, this time as the 11th-seed broke the eighth-seeded American at the start of the fifth set.
Ever the entertainer, Tsonga delighted the crowd at one point as he arranged the ball-boys into a ring to protect his modesty during an on-court shorts-change.
The athletic Frenchman now faces Roger Federer who he has beaten in his last two matches, coming back from two sets down to beat him in this year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals.
“He’s a tough player. I’ve had some really good matches against him,” said Federer, who has a 4-3 career record against the Frenchaman.
“He’s an exciting player to watch and to play against.”