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Novak Djokovic charges into U.S. Open quarterfinals

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Top-seeded Novak Djokovic moved one step closer to completing a calendar-year Grand Slam sweep, winning in four sets Monday to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in New York.

After a slow start, the Serbian star topped American Jenson Brooksby 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

“I must say that it wasn’t a great start for me, obviously,” Djokovic said “Jenson was pumped. He had a clear game plan, was executing well all the shots very efficiently. I was really on the back foot. I didn’t have the rhythm, made a lot of unforced errors and he was reading the play very well for about a set and a half. …

“I think the momentum changed midway through the second set; we played a couple of very long games. I lost my serve, but I regrouped to re-break the next game and after that I started hitting more cleanly, hitting through the court.

“Whenever I needed a serve, I found my serve. I hit my spots well, but all in all it was a very physical battle, a lot of exhausting rallies. Credit to him for his performance tonight. It was fantastic.”

Next up for Djokovic is a matchup with sixth-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini, who beat German qualifier Oscar Otte 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Djokovic finished with a 9-4 edge in aces, and he saved six of the seven break points he faced after losing the first set.

Brooksby, a 20-year-old who got to his first career ATP Tour final this summer in Newport, R.I., was appearing in the fourth round of a major event for the first time. He was the youngest U.S. player to advance this far at the U.S. Open since Andy Roddick got to the quarterfinals in 2002 as a 20-year-old.

Djokovic said of Brooksby, “He’s so crafty from the back of the court and he’s a very intelligent player and he’s only 20. There’s a lot of time ahead of him. America has a bright future in tennis, that’s for sure.”

Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev recorded 17 aces on Monday and cruised to a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (6) victory over 13th-seeded Jannik Sinner of Italy to reach the quarterfinals.

Zverev, who lost to Austria’s Dominic Thiem in last year’s final, is red-hot with 15 consecutive victories, including winning the Olympic goal medal in Tokyo. He had 37 winners and 38 unforced errors while finishing off Sinner in two hours, 28 minutes.

“That was high-level tennis,” the German star said after the match. “It was hard hitting and never easy. I am happy to get through.”

Zverev will face South African Lloyd Harris in the quarterfinals. Harris knocked off American Reilly Opelka 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.

“He’s playing incredible and he’s also serving incredible,” Zverev said of Harris, a player he defeated in straight sets last month. “In Cincinnati, I was struggling a lot to return his serve in the first set. It’s going be a tough one, definitely.”

Zverev had six aces in the opening set against Sinner while setting the tone for the match. He had three in the second and finished with eight in the third.

Sinner had five aces for the match among 30 winners. He committed 38 unforced errors.

Meanwhile, Harris registered 36 aces while taking down the 22nd-seeded Opelka. He also recorded 62 winners against 16 unforced errors.

Harris lost the first set in a tiebreak and then dominated the next three sets to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time in his career.

“I thought I played a really good first set,” Harris said. “Right from the start, I was returning well and getting on his serves. Throughout the match, I served really well. … What an unbelievable feeling this is. This is crazy.”

Harris said he is looking forward to matching up against Zverev again. He is 0-2 against him with the other loss being a three-setter in Germany in 2020.

“I take a lot of positives out of that match,” Harris said of the recent loss. “The first set was really close and played some good tennis there as well. … I’m looking forward to that match. I know he has been playing really well.”

Opelka had 24 aces among his 49 winners. He committed 33 unforced errors.

–Field Level Media

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