Tennis: Djokovic leads heavyweight cast into second week

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, waves to the crowd after defeating Sam Querrey, of the United States, during the third round of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis. Photo / AP
Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, waves to the crowd after defeating Sam Querrey, of the United States, during the third round of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis. Photo / AP

Novak Djokovic warned he was "peaking at the right time" after leading a heavyweight cast into the second week of the US Open at Flushing Meadows.

The world No.1 continued his romp through the draw with a 6-3 6-2 6-2 dispatch of American Sam Querrey on Saturday.

In a star-studded top half, Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, former titleholder Andy Murray, fifth seed Milos Raonic and the in-form Jo-Wilfried Tsonga joined Djokovic in the last 16.

But after an unconvincing build-up highlighted by third-round exits in Toronto and Cincinnati, Djokovic has emerged from the opening week as hot favourite once again to see off his challengers and qualify for a sixth final in New York.

"What is supposed to go on in my game? It's peaking at the right time, at the right tournament," the top seed said.

"This is where I want to play my best tennis."

The Serb conceded he didn't know how "emotionally drained" he was from his epic Wimbledon final triumph over Roger Federer and wedding days later to girlfriend Jelena Ristic until slipping up against Tsonga in Toronto.

"I wasn't ready for those tournaments," he said.

"But the upside of me losing early in Cincinnati is that I had more time to prepare for US Open, the last grand slam of the year.

"Over the years I played some of my best tennis on these courts. I feel very comfortable playing on Arthur Ashe stadium.

"The New York crowd give me a lot of energy. It's a pleasure to perform, to play in front of them."

Djokovic said life was good and it could get even better with an eighth career major on Monday week.

"I feel like I can't ask from life anything more than I have in this moment," Djokovic said.

"I got married, going to become father soon, being No.1 in the sport that I love with all my heart.

"I mean, it's pretty awesome moment. So I try to cherish that."

Djokovic will play Philipp Kohlschreiber on Monday, bidding to reach a 22nd consecutive grand slam quarter-final after the German dashed American hopes for another year with a 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4) victory over John Isner.

Murray eased past Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-1 7-5 4-6 6-2 to set up a fourth-round blockbuster with Tsonga, a 6-4 6-4 6-4 winner over Spaniard Pablo Carreno.

Tsonga had lost his past 17 matches in total against Djokovic and Murray until beating both plus Federer to reign in Toronto.

The flamboyant Frenchman is now the only player to have toppled each of the so-called Big Four - including Rafael Nadal - at least three times and looks in ominous touch.

"He's obviously playing extremely well just now. I'm aware it's going to be a very tricky match," Murray said.

Wawrinka advanced without picking up a racquet, receiving a walkover from injured Slovenian Blaz Kavcic.

Next up for the Swiss third seed is either Spanish 16th seed Tommy Robredo or Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios, who clash in the feature night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Monday's other fourth-round showdown features young guns Raonic and Japanese 10th seed Kei Nishikori.

Raonic needed three tiebreakers to squeeze past Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-3), while Nishikori outclassed Argentina Leonardo Mayer 6-4 6-2 6-3.


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