NEW YORK: Novak Djokovic did his part to set up a blockbuster quarter-final clash with Roger Federer at the US Open last night with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over unseeded Joao Sousa.
Djokovic, who ended a 54-week title drought with his 13th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, will play the winner of the match between five-time US Open champion Federer and John Millman.
Should Federer get through against the 55th-ranked Australian, he’ll set up his earliest Grand Slam meeting with Djokovic since 2007, when Federer beat Djokovic to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Djokovic, whose 6-6 record against Federer at Flushing Meadows includes victories over the Swiss great in the 2011 and 2015 finals, said he was relieved to get past 68th-ranked Sousa in straight sets as temperatures soared again.
Sousa, who got past 12th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta and No. 17 Luca Pouille to become the first Portugese man to reach a Grand Slam last 16, was irked by the chair umpire’s refusal to allow a line call challenge in the seventh game of the final set.
Djokovic broke him at love in the next game and served out the match without fuss.
Kei Nishikori, vying to improve on his US Open runner-up finish in 2014, cruised into the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory over German Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Japan’s Nishikori could find himself up against Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-finals in a rematch of the 2014 championship match won by the Croatian.
Seventh-seeded Cilic, who survived a five-set marathon against Australian teenager Alex de Minaur that went into the early hours of Sunday morning, was scheduled to face 10th-seeded Belgian David Goffin later last night.
Meanwhile, Madison Keys eased into the women’s quarter-finals with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.
The 14th-seeded American, looking to go one better than her runner-up finish at Flushing Meadows last year, relied on both her dangerous serve and powerful groundstrokes to deny Cibulkova any chance of an upset win.
Next up for Keys is the winner of the evening clash between five-times Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova and Spanish 30th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.
Japan’s Naomi Osaka reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final by beating Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 2-6 6-4 in a pressure-packed clash of two hard-serving 20-year-old prospects.
Osaka, who won the Indian Wells Masters tournament in March, fired nine aces and produced 32 unforced errors, 10 fewer than her Belarussian opponent, in a gusty defensive performance.