Not since a semi-final win over the Serbian in New York in 2014 had Nishikori obtained the higher of Djokovic, and he received simply two video games on the Olympics in Tokyo earlier this summer time.
The Japanese participant received the primary set in Arthur Ashe Stadium to threaten an enormous upset however Djokovic roared his option to a 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory and a spot within the fourth spherical.
Djokovic feeling the burden of historical past all through his run to the Wimbledon title however was adequate within the moments that mattered to develop into the primary man for greater than half a century to win the primary three grand slam titles of the yr.
His hopes of a Golden Slam went up in smoke on the Tokyo Olympics however the title right here is the largest prize and there have been once more indicators of tightness from Djokovic within the opening set.
He recovered an early break however Nishikori, who at his finest is among the few gamers who can match Djokovic’s clear hitting from the baseline, got here out on prime within the tie-break.
Djokovic stepped up a gear with a break of serve for 2-1 within the second set, roaring with delight, after which saved 5 break factors to protect his benefit.
He wobbled from 4-1 up within the third, serving two double faults in a row as Nishikori broke again, however Djokovic solid forward once more instantly and was just too sturdy within the fourth.
The highest seed mentioned: “I don’t assume I began off very nicely, I used to be fairly passive. I used to be nonetheless looking for the rhythm. Clearly he performed a lot faster and extra aggressive than my opponents within the first two rounds.
“At first of the second set I already felt like I used to be getting the groove again. I used to be more than happy with the main focus. Possibly at some factors I wasn’t at my finest however general I used to be decided, I used to be concentrated, and that’s what issues in the long run.”
Sixth seed Matteo Berrettini the person Djokovic defeated within the Wimbledon last, was pushed all the best way by in-form Belarusian Ilya Ivashka however got here by way of 6-7 (5) 6-2 6-4 2-6 6-3.
Within the final 16, the Italian will face one of many event’s shock packages in German Oscar Otte, who confirmed his skills in a five-set battle with Andy Murray at Wimbledon and progressed after a four-set win over Andreas Seppi.
With Otte’s countryman Peter Gojowczyk and Dutchman Botic Van De Zandschulp additionally into the fourth spherical, it’s the first time three qualifiers have made it this far at a slam for greater than 25 years.
There have already been 30 five-set matches in New York this yr, with the newest seeing 20-year-old Jannik Sinner quell a comeback from Gael Monfils to win 7-6 (1) 6-2 4-6 4-6 6-4.
Monfils delighted the gang by battling from 4-0 down within the fourth set to power a decider however Sinner once more confirmed his aggressive toughness by popping out on prime.
Seventh seed and 2020 quarter-finalist Denis Shapovalov crashed out to South African Lloyd Harris, taking place to a shock 6-4 6-4 6-4 defeat.
Fourth seed Alexander Zverev booked his spot within the fourth spherical after Jack Sock retired within the fourth set of their match on Arthur Ashe.
Sock received the primary set, however obtained remedy early within the second and needed to name time with Zverev successful 3-6 6-2 6-3 2-1.
Zverev mentioned on court docket: “If Jack had stored on taking part in the best way he was doing within the first set, I might have been performed in an hour and a half and been planning my holidays and having a great time subsequent week someplace within the south of France.”