By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Top seed Novak Djokovic was made to work hard by Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut before he posted a 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3 win at the U.S. Open on Sunday, moving him into his 26th consecutive grand slam quarter-final.
After Djokovic won an opening-set groundstroke battle with steady accuracy and well chosen forays to the net, Bautista Agut used his big forehand to come back from 4-2 down in the second and win the next four games to level the match.
The world number one smashed his racquet after losing the second set but made better use of its replacement, winning the third following a service break in the fifth game, before raising his performances in the fourth set to claim victory.
"Congratulations to Bautista for hanging in there, for fighting. It was a great match tonight," said the Serb, winner of this year's Australian Open and Wimbledon titles.
The Spaniard unleashed 34 winners, including 22 from the forehand, but came up short in a quest to reach his first grand slam quarter-final.
"He made me work for every point," said Djokovic, who will meet Spain's Feliciano Lopez, who beat Italy's Fabio Fognini 6-3 7-6(5) 6-1, in the quarter-finals.
Only Jimmy Connors (27) and Roger Federer (36) have registered more consecutive grand slam quarter-final appearances in the Open era.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)