NEW YORK (AFP) - Novak Djokovic did his part to set up a blockbuster quarter-final clash with Roger Federer at the US Open on Monday (Sept 3) with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over unseeded Joao Sousa.
Djokovic, who ended a 54-week title drought with his 13th Grand Slam crown at Wimbledon, will play the winner of a night match between five-time US Open champion Federer and John Millman.
Should 20-time Major winner Federer get through against the 55th-ranked Australian, he'll set up his earliest Grand Slam meeting with Djokovic since 2007, when Federer beat the Serb star to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Djokovic, whose 3-3 record against Federer at Flushing Meadows includes victories over the Swiss great in the 2011 and 2015 finals, said he was relieved to get past 68th-ranked Sousa in straight sets as temperatures soared again.
"Very happy to get this one done in straight sets," said Djokovic, who left the court for a lengthy toilet break after the second set and departed again for evaluation during a medical time-out early in the third before returning to wrap things up in exactly two hours.
Sousa, who got past 12th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta and No. 17 Luca Pouille to become the first Portuguese man to reach a Grand Slam last 16, was "not happy" at Djokovic's first lengthy absence from the court, although he acknowledged there was no rule limiting time of a comfort break.
More damaging may have been his ire at the chair umpire's refusal to allow a line call challenge in the seventh game of the final set on grounds he gestured too late.
Distracted, he was broken at love in the next game and Djokovic served out the match without fuss.
"It was much more difficult than the score indicated," said Djokovic, who said he struggled with a "couple of things" during the match but that the heat "was the adversity today".
"You can't do anything but try to be tough and survive, find a way to win," he said.