Djokovic and Cilic through to U.S. Open fourth round

Fri Sep 4, 2015 7:38pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Top seed Novak Djokovic and defending champion Marin Cilic took different routes into the fourth round of the U.S. Open as the upsets and searing heat at Flushing Meadows both eased off on Friday.

After a week of punishing heat that saw a record 13 players retire, cooler temperatures and order returned to the year's final grand slam as world number one Djokovic eased to a third round 6-3 7-5 7-5 victory over Italian Andreas Seppi.

Cilic also kept his title defense on track but not without a scare as the ninth seed needed over four hours to put away Kazakhstan's 56th-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin 6-7(5) 7-6(1) 6-3 6-7(3) 6-1.

The big-hitting Croat stepped onto the Grandstand court having won 16 straight sets at the National Tennis Center but that string quickly came to an end when Kukushkin took the opening set in a tiebreak in what was the start of a long and harrowing afternoon for the defending champion.

"I'm happy with the fighting spirit today, just accepting that I wasn't playing so well," said Cilic. "For sure (being defending champion) always has some weight to it.

"Playing on a big court with a full house, that's going to give you some extra motivation in the situations like today when I was a set and 5-2 down.

"I was in the thought process that I am going to stay on the court as much as necessary."

It had been a trouble-free visit to New York for Djokovic, the lanky Serb not dropping a set while losing just 10 games going into his match against Seppi.   Continued...

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Andreas Seppi of Italy in their third round match at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, September 4, 2015.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif