Djokovic Downs Sousa; Into 11th US Open Quarter-final
Novak Djokovic reached his 11th US Open quarter-final on Monday, moving past Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in a humid day session on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Djokovic, who will face Roger Federer or John Millman in the last eight, advanced after one hour and 59 minutes to maintain his unbeaten record in fourth-round matches at the year’s final Grand Slam (11-0).
Meeting for the second time in five FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters at Flushing Meadows, Djokovic converted five of six break points and hit 23 winners to progress. In their first meeting, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2013, Djokovic dropped just four games, overpowering Sousa 6-0, 6-2, 6-2.
The two-time champion, who improves to 28-0 in New York against players outside the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings, is bidding to lift his third US Open title on his first visit to the tournament since reaching the 2016 final (l. to Wawrinka). The Serbian also remains undefeated at the quarter-final stage in Flushing Meadows (10-0).
Five-time winner Roger Federer or John Millman of Australia will look to stop Djokovic from reaching an 11th US Open semi-final. In August, Djokovic beat the Swiss for the 24th time in 46 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings to capture the Career Golden Masters in Cincinnati. Djokovic defeated Millman in their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter at the 2018 Fever-Tree Chanmpionships.
Following comfortable holds in their opening service games, Djokovic made the first move in an extended third game. The 70-time tour-level titlist, after failing to convert his first break point, fired a cross-court backhand passing shot, beyond a stranded Sousa at net, to move ahead. Three service holds later, Djokovic played with consistency, while Sousa struggled to find holes in his opponent’s defence. The World No. 68 dropped his serve to love, on a double fault, to hand Djokovic a one-set advantage.
After trading breaks early in the second set, Djokovic covered the court well, playing with great depth, to extract errors from his opponent. Under score line pressure, serving at 4-5 (30/30), Djokovic’s reliability worked wonders. The Serbian soaked up the pressure, extracting two forehand errors to close in on his 11th quarter-final appearance in New York.
A tighter third set ensued, with neither man able to manufacture a break-point opportunity through eight games. But, at the business end of the set, Djokovic discovered his top form. The Wimbledon champion took control on his backhand side, firing winners to earn three break points at 0/40. Djokovic converted his first chance with an overhead down the centre of the court before serving the match out to 30.
Sousa, the first Portuguese player to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam, was aiming to defeat his third Top 20 opponent in four rounds at the US Open. Despite entering the tournament on a seven match losing streak at tour-level, the 29-year-old won back-to-back matches against Pablo Carreno Busta and Lucas Pouille to create Portuguese history.
Did You Know?
Novak Djokovic has reached the semi-finals or better on his past 10 US Open visits.