Novak Djokovic rolled into his 13th US Open quarter-final on Sunday after Coco Gauff ended Caroline Wozniacki’s fairytale Grand Slam comeback to line up a potential blockbuster with defending champion Iga Swiatek. Three-time US Open winner Djokovic cruised past 105th-ranked Croatian qualifier Borna Gojo 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 to book a showdown with American No.1 Taylor Fritz in the last eight. After recovering from two sets down in the previous round, Djokovic dictated from the outset against 25-year-old outsider Gojo who had won just one Grand Slam match prior to this week.
Djokovic broke twice in the first set, the 23-time Grand Slam winner shaking off an early wobble in the second and procuring another break in the third to polish off Gojo without the drama of his preceding five-set victory over Laslo Djere.
“I knew that Borna has a big game, I don’t think we ever faced each other on tour level to be honest,” said Djokovic.
“He’s a big shot player, serve and forehand, big weapons, moves pretty well for a big guy. The key to the match was to try and neutralise his serve. Just glad to get through in straight sets.”
The 36-year-old Serbian star will on Tuesday look to continue his dominance of Fritz, a player he’s beaten in all seven past meetings including a one-sided affair in Cincinnati last month.
“He’s been playing some terrific tennis particularly on home soil here in the States,” Djokovic said of Fritz.
“Obviously the matches are going to get tougher from here onwards and I’m ready. It’s going to be great.”
Fritz became the third American man to reach the quarter-finals Sunday after a straight-sets win over Swiss qualifier Dominic Stricker.
The ninth seed knocked out world number 128 Stricker 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-4 to match his mother Kathy May’s run to the 1978 US Open quarter-finals.
He joins compatriots Frances Tiafoe and Ben Shelton in the next round. It is the first time the US has had three men’s quarter-finalists in New York since 2005.
Tiafoe, seeded 10th, advanced to an all-American quarter-final against 47th-ranked Shelton after defeating Australia’s Rinky Hijikata 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.
The 25-year-old Tiafoe reached the semi-finals of the US Open last year where he lost in five sets to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz.
Meanwhile Shelton, 20, took down 14th-seeded compatriot Tommy Paul in four sets to reach his second Grand Slam quarter-final of the year.
He avenged his loss to Paul in the last eight of the Australian Open, winning 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to become the youngest American man to reach the US Open quarters since Andy Roddick in 2002.
– Gauff eyes Swiatek showdown –
Home favourite and sixth seed Gauff was taken to three sets for the third time in four rounds this week before edging out former world number one Wozniacki 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
The 19-year-old could meet defending champion Swiatek in the last eight after Gauff picked up her 15th win in 16 matches, a run including titles in Washington and Cincinnati last month.
Gauff sparked into life after dropping the opening two games to pocket the opening set, but Wozniacki — playing her first Grand Slam in over three years — wound back the clock to level the match.
Two-time US Open runner-up Wozniacki broke to start the deciding set, triggering a ferocious response from Gauff who swept the final six games to close out a gutsy victory.
“Caroline is back, it’s like she’s never left,” Gauff said of the 33-year-old Wozniacki, appearing in just her third tournament since returning to the sport last month.
“The level she played today was amazing, and she’s been an inspiration for me growing up.”
Wozniacki, who made her tour debut when Gauff was only one, retired after the 2020 Australian Open to start a family, giving birth to two children.
She was trying to emulate Kim Clijsters, who beat the Dane in the 2009 US Open final on her own return to Grand Slam tennis from maternity leave.
Later on Sunday, Swiatek takes on the dangerous Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the evening session in a clash of French Open champions past and present.
World number one Swiatek is 0-3 against the unpredictable Ostapenko but this is their first meeting at a Grand Slam.
“With Jelena, it’s a little bit like one day she can play a perfect match and just put everything in even though she’s really risking, and the other day can be different,” said Swiatek.
“You never know what to expect.”
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