WORLD No1 Novak Djokovic made it safely through to the last eight of the US Open but only after prevailing in an epic first set tie break against Russia’s Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Djokovic triumphed in straight sets – recording his 61st win of the calendar year – but it might have been a different story had he failed to save four set points in a tie break which he eventually took 16-14.
Dolgopolov troubled the Wimbledon champion throughout, particularly with his sliced backhand, but after losing the first set in such dramatic circumstances he never looked capable of causing an upset.
After completing a 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory Djokovic said: “It wasn’t a great performance from my side in the first set.
“I wasn't feeling the ball the way I wanted in the first set but it was important to win and I played much better in the next two sets.”
Djokovic’s next opponent, Janko Tipsarevic, earlier reached his first grand slam quarter-final with a 7-5, 6-7, 7-5, 6-2 victory over the former world No1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Looking ahead to the all-Serbian clash, Djokovic added: “We know each other really, really well but we are both professionals. When we step on the court we want to win.”
Meanwhile, in the women’s draw Serena Williams breezed into the quarter-finals with a comfortable straight-sets win against another Serb, Ana Ivanovic.
The 28th seed remains on course for a fourth title at Flushing Meadows following an impressive 6-3, 6-4 defeat of the former world No1.
After a tumultuous couple of years Williams could be about to announce her return to the top of the women’s game with 14th grand slam title, but she admits that would pose a problem of its own.
Williams said: “I don’t have any more space (for the trophy). I have a new house in LA. I created a karaoke room, so I can’t put trophies in there.
“In Florida, forget it. Venus and I, there’s just no more space. I would love to keep winning them. But we’re like, ‘Oh, what are we going to do with this one?’”