New York - Top seed Novak Djokovic was made to work hard by Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut before he posted a 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3 win at the US Open on Sunday, moving him into his 26th consecutive grand slam quarter-final.
After Djokovic won an opening-set groundstroke battle with steady accuracy and well chosen forays to the net, Bautista Agut used his big forehand to come back from 4-2 down in the second and win the next four games to level the match.
The world number one smashed his racquet after losing the second set but made better use of its replacement, winning the third following a service break in the fifth game, before raising his performances in the fourth set to claim victory.
"Congratulations to Bautista for hanging in there, for fighting. It was a great match tonight," said the Serb, winner of this year's Australian Open and Wimbledon titles.
The Spaniard unleashed 34 winners, including 22 from the forehand, but came up short in a quest to reach his first grand slam quarter-final.
"He made me work for every point," said Djokovic, who will meet Spain's Feliciano Lopez, who beat Italy's Fabio Fognini 6-3 7-6(5) 6-1, in the quarter-finals.
Only Jimmy Connors (27) and Roger Federer (36) have registered more consecutive grand slam quarter-final appearances in the Open era.US Open results on Sunday, the seventh day of the 2015 tournament at Flushing Meadows (x denotes seeded player):
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x23) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Feliciano Lopez (ESP x18) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA x32) 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x19) bt Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO x9) bt Jeremy Chardy (FRA x27) 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-1
Serena Williams (USA x1) bt Madison Keys (USA) 6-3, 6-3
Venus Williams (USA x23) bt Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-2, 6-1
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) bt Ekaterina Makarova (RUS x13) 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 6-1
Roberta Vinci (ITA) bt Eugnie Bouchard (CAN x25) - walkover