Former champions Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray booked a tantalizing US Open quarter-final duel on Monday with straight-sets fourth-round victories.
World No. 1 and top seed Djokovic did not let Philipp Kohlschreiber stand in the way of another Grand Slam last-eight appearance, defeating the 22nd seed from Germany 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 on another oppressively muggy New York day.
Eighth-seeded Scot Murray advanced with a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 victory over ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, avenging a loss to the Frenchman in the Toronto Masters last month.
Djokovic and Murray boast a long rivalry, in which the Serbian owns a 12-8 record.
They are 2-2 in Grand Slam finals, including Murray’s triumph over Djokovic in the 2012 final at Flushing Meadows for his first major crown.
“Tough match,” Murray said of the looming contest. “We’ve had a lot of long ones. We played a long one here a few years ago — I have great memories from that match.”
Djokovic reached his 22nd straight Grand Slam quarter-final, a run that stretches back to Kohlschreiber’s victory over him in the third round of the 2009 French Open.
“I’m very glad obviously that I had so many consecutive quarter-finals of Grand Slams. It says that I do value these tournaments the most and try to always perform my best tennis in them,” Djokovic said.
The Wimbledon champion looked headed for a short day’s work when he raced through the first set in 25 minutes.
However, Kohlschreiber dug in, keeping his nose in front on serve and forcing Djokovic to fend off a set point in the 10th game of the second.
Djokovic did so with a stinging forehand passing shot to end a rally that sent the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd wild, then broke Kohlschreiber for a 6-5 lead.
Serving for the set, Djokovic saved another break point with an off-speed service winner and having wrapped up the second set he broke Kohlschreiber to open the third and marched home from there.
“It doesn’t feel that it went very easily,” Djokovic said. “Philipp is a tough player.”
Murray broke Tsonga in the final game of each set en route to his victory, first recovering an early break in both the second and third.
Japan’s Kei Nishikori worked late, very late, to earn a quarter-final berth with a five-set win over Milos Raonic that equalled the latest finish for a match in US Open history — 2:26am yesterday morning.
Nishikori, the 10th seed, defeated the fifth-seeded Canadian 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (6/8), 7-5, 6-4 to set up a meeting with Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka.
The finish time of the contest tied the record set in 1993, when Mats Wilander defeated Mikael Pernfors 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 1-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in a second-round match and tied in 2012, when Kohlschreiber beat John Isner 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a third round match in 2012.
Nishikori, the first Japanese man to break into the top 10 in the world rankings, avenged a loss to Raonic in the fourth round at Wimbledon and reached the last eight of a Grand Slam for the second time after his quarter-final run at the 2012 Australian Open.
He will have little time to rest before a meeting today with third-seeded Wawrinka, who beat 16th-seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-2.