Novak Djokovic played down suggestions that he gets rattled when the crowd starts rallying for his opponents, after a rage-filled win over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.
Djokovic furiously stamped on his bag and snapped a racket he was not even using after Bautista Agut clinched the second set, but the top seed recovered his composure to win 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3 and book his place in the quarter-finals.
It was an unusual show of frustration from Djokovic, who was never at his metronomic best under the lights of Athur Ashe Stadium, but raised his game when it mattered to reach his 26th consecutive grand slam quarter-final.
The support was certainly weighted in Bautista Agut’s favour late Sunday night, particularly when he threatened a comeback.
But Djokovic, who now faces Spain’s Feliciano Lopez in the last eight, insists his anger stemmed solely from his own lapses in concentration.
“I was upset with myself,” Djokovic said. “I was frustrated with the fact from 4-2 and 15-40 I wasn’t able to capitalise on those opportunities and lost five games in a row. I cannot allow myself to do that.
“It happens. I’m a player that shows emotions. Obviously at that moment it wasn’t easy, but I managed to kind of regroup.
“The important thing is that I managed to find a way to win. I’m not saying this is a proper way to express your emotions. Sometimes you’re not proud of what you do.”
It is the first time in the tournament Djokovic dropped a set as he lost his serve four times to Bautista Agut in the match, twice has many as his first three rounds put together.
“It’s always good to have a test like this in a grand slam, better earlier than later,” Djokovic said.
“But again, it’s hard to predict how the matches are going to look. As you progress in the tournament the matches are getting tougher, which is logical to expect.
“I’m going to play Feliciano Lopez now who is also Spanish but doesn’t possess the typical Spanish style, from the back of the court.
“He comes in and slices; he is physically very strong; big serve. Hopefully I can be ready for that.”
Lopez has never beaten Djokovic in five meetings but they have only met once at a grand slam and the pair’s most recent encounter was in Shanghai three years ago.
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