Novak Djokovic beats Roberto Bautista Agut to reach US Open quarter-finals
Last Updated: 07/09/15 6:37pm
Novak Djokovic lost his cool as he was forced to work for a four-set victory over Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round at the US Open.
The top seed furiously stamped on his racquet after dropping his first set in the New York tournament, but eventually overcame the spirited Spaniard to seal a 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3 win.
He will next face 18th seed Feliciano Lopez, who claimed a 6-3 7-6 6-1 triumph over Fabio Fognini at Flushing Meadows.
Djokovic fashioned his first break with a superb angled forehand, but was not serving with his usual authority and fended off his second break point of the opening set before eventually securing it with an athletic smash.
The world No 1 appeared on course for another routine win when Bautista Agut was broken again after shovelling his backhand into the net.
"Congratulations to Bautista for hanging in there, for fighting. It was a great match," Djokovic said. "It was a very physical match."
But Bautista Agut's appetite for battle had not diminished and he broke back with a fizzing forehand before forcing a clumsy return from Djokovic to claim another timely break at 5-4 to level the match.
Reacting angrily, Djokovic received a code violation from the umpire for kicking out at his racquet, and his frown deepened as Bautista Agut picked up more winners with his ferocious forehand.
"I think there were several moments in which I managed to rattle him, making him uncomfortable on the court," Bautista Agut said.
This stubborn defiance could not last, with an overhit return handing Djokovic a break at 2-2, and the Serb served out for a 2-1 lead in the match.
There would be further drama in the fourth set as Bautista Agut broke back to level at 2-2, but Djokovic produced another passionate outburst after breaking again.
Even while serving for the match, Djokovic could not relax as Bautista Agut hauled back one of the two breaks, although this would prove his last stand as he conceded defeat in his next service game.
"Obviously at that moment it wasn't easy, but I managed to regroup and use the experience of facing these particular situations before in my life, knowing what to do next," Djokovic said.