Top seed Novak Djokovic defeated Italy’s Andreas Seppi for the 11th time in 11 meetings to reach the US Open fourth round on Friday.
The world number one and 2011 champion triumphed 6-3 7-5 7-5 as the 28-year-old inched closer to a sixth final in New York.
Djokovic, who also recorded his 31st successive win over Italian opponents, goes on to face either Belgian 14th seed David Goffin or Spain’s number 23 Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the quarter-finals.
The Serb star had dropped just 10 games in his first two rounds, not facing a break point, but was pushed hard by 25th seed Seppi, who knocked Roger Federer out of the Australian Open in January.
He dropped serve for the first time in the second set and was broken again as he served for the match in the 10th game of the third.
But the 31-year-old Seppi was unable to capitalise on his break and handed the advantage straight back to the world No.1 in the 11th game.
“I had to hang in there and try and play at my pace,” said Djokovic.
“He was aggressive and went for backhands down the line. I just had to stay patient and wait for my opportunities which is easier said than done.”
Djokovic ended with 11 aces and 37 winners but will look to reduce the error count of 31 in the fourth round, where victory would put him into a 25th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final.
Joining him in the fourth round is defending champion Marin Cilic, who was given a lengthy test by Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin.
Cilic, who won his lone grand slam title by defeating Kei Nishikori in last year’s final took four hours and 18 minutes to win through in an epic 6-7 (7-5) 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 6-7 (7-3) 6-1 victory.
“It wasn’t easy but I stayed together and got it done,” Cilic said.
France’s Benoit Paire reached the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 6-1 victory over Spain’s Tommy Robredo.
He next faces countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who ousted Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3 7-5 6-2.