Cilic, Tsonga to clash in US Open

Defending champion Marin Cilic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have set up a US Open quarter-final clash as world number one Novak Djokovic waited to take another step closer to a 10th Grand Slam title.

Cilic made the last-eight for the fourth time with a 6-3 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 win over France’s Jeremy Chardy on Sunday.

Cilic, the Croatian ninth seed, took his record in New York to 11 successive wins after capturing his maiden Grand Slam title in the city last year.

But the 26-year-old had to overcome an injury scare in the second set to stay alive in the tournament when he rolled his right ankle.

“I twisted my ankle in the second set but I tried not to let it affect my movement,” he said.

“In the first few games of the third set, I was conscious of it but after that I didn’t have trouble with it.”

Cilic fired 23 aces and 52 winners in his win over Chardy, one of four Frenchmen to make the last-16.

Four of those aces came in the third set tiebreak.

“I took the joker from Goran in the tiebreak,” he said, explaining his inspiration from coach and big-hitting former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic.

French 19th seed Tsonga reached his second quarter-final in New York with a 6-4 6-3 6-4 win over unseeded compatriot Benoit Paire, the man who opened up their section of the draw by knocking out fourth seed Kei Nishikori in the first round.

The 30-year-old Tsonga, who made the semi-finals at the French Open in June, did not face a single break point against Paire.

He has now held all 56 service games at the tournament.

Cilic holds a 4-1 career lead over Tsonga in main tour matches, winning the pair’s last three without dropping a set.

Tsonga’s only win was in the 2011 Cincinnati Masters.

“I have the feeling that I am playing my best tennis and I hope this will continue,” said Tsonga, who made the quarter-finals four years ago.

“It’s been a great week. I hope for the same again in the next few days.”

Later Sunday, Djokovic goes under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium to face Spanish 23rd seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

The top seed has won both their previous matches, which came on the hard courts of Dubai in 2013 and 2014.

Djokovic, bidding for a third Grand Slam title of the year after winning a fifth Australian Open and third Wimbledon, hasn’t dropped a set in the tournament.

The 2011 champion has played in five finals in New York and is looking to reach his ninth straight US Open quarter-final.

Bautista Agut, 27, made the last 16 in 2014 but has lost his last 13 matches against top-10 opponents.

The winner of that match will face either Spanish 18th seed Feliciano Lopez or 32nd-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini, the man who sent 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal crashing out in the third round from two sets down.

Lopez is looking to reach his fourth Grand Slam quarter-final but first outside of Wimbledon.

Fognini, who fired 70 winners past Nadal, is the first Italian to make the fourth round in New York since Davide Sanguinetti in 2005.

The last Italian man in the quarter-finals was Corrado Barazzutti, who went to the semi-finals in 1977 when the tournament was played at nearby Forest Hills.

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