NEW YORK • Novak Djokovic tipped his hat to Serena and Venus Williams ahead of their 27th career meeting, admitting on Sunday that he would find it impossible to play his own brother.
The men's world No. 1 has two tennis-playing younger brothers - 24-year-old Marko and Djorde, 20.
Both compete in the sport's lower-level tours, which suits Djokovic just fine.
"The first thing that comes to my mind is how would I feel to play my brother, and I don't think that would be possible, honestly," said Djokovic after reaching his 26th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final on Sunday in New York.
"In a way, I admire what they're doing for so many years to play against each other on such a big stage. It's strange. They are sisters.
US Open (4th rd)
Men: Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt Roberto Bautista Agut (Esp) 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3, Feliciano Lopez (Esp) bt Fabio Fognini (Ita) 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-1, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) bt Benoit Paire (Fra) 6-4 6-3 6-4, Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Jeremy Chardy (Fra) 6-3 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-1.
Women: Serena Williams (USA) bt Madison Keys (USA) 6-3 6-3, Venus Williams (USA) bt Anett Kontaveit (Est) 6-2 6-1, Kristina Mladenovic (Fra) bt Ekaterina Makarova (Rus) 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 6-1, Roberta Vinci (Ita) bt Eugenie Bouchard (Can) - walkover.
"They live together. They grew up together playing tennis.
"But I don't know if I'll be able to play my brother. It's not possible.
"I would not be able to handle it on the court."
The top seed found it slightly hard to handle Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut on Sunday before posting a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.
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 2-4 down in the second and win the next four games to level the match.
The Serb smashed his racket after losing the second set. But he made better use of its replacement, winning the third following a service break in the fifth game.
He raised his performances in the fourth set to claim victory.
"I was upset with myself," said Djokovic. "But I managed to regroup. The important thing is that I managed to find a way to win."
He will meet Spain's Feliciano Lopez who beat Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 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 than Djokovic.
"I'm proud of the fact that I've been able to achieve so much in my career so far and to be able to play my best in the grand slams, which I was always aiming for," the nine-time grand slam winner Djokovic said.
"I'm always trying to set up my form, shape, for these events. This is where I want to peak."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE