Third seed Novak Djokovic capped a perfect Thursday for the favourites at the U.S. Open with an entertaining victory over Germany's Philipp Petzschner to reach the third round of the year's final grand slam.
Djokovic closed out an irresistible display by the seeds with a lively 7-5 6-3 7-6 win under lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The Serb's victory marked the fifth successive straight-sets win for seeded players on centre court, although he was forced to work harder than his predecessors against a fiesty opponent armed with a formidable serve.
The matchup was 12 games old before Djokovic managed the first service break, taking a lot of energy out of both players and leading to an unusual third set tiebreak where seven points in a row were won against serve. Djokovic squandered two match points, double-faulting on the first when serving at 6-4 and then hitting a forehand into the net on the second.
The 52nd-ranked Petzschner, who was teamed with Austrian Jurgen Melzer and won this year's Wimbledon doubles title, sailed a second serve return long to end the two-hour 23-minute match.
"He's a very good player, you've got to give him credit," Djokovic said. "He serves well. He was changing up the pace and not giving me any rhythm. "It was very shaky at the end of the match but I was just fortunate to hold on."
The crackling match saw a brief interruption when a scuffle broke out in the upper deck in which three people were handcuffed and taken away in a dispute over "bad language" according to officials.
Petzschner also seemed a little rattled at times and slugged two balls into the crowd out of frustration.
Djokovic saved the best bit of entertainment for the end in post-match comments on the court.
Exhorted by fans late in the contest to match Swiss master Roger Federer's now famous back-to-the-net, between-the-legs winners as the Serb raced back for a ball against Petzschner, Djokovic instead ripped a backhand winner.
Questioned by the interviewer if he had that "tweener shot between your legs," Djokovic offered a perfectly timed comedy reply.
"No. I have something else between my legs," he quipped, eliciting roars of laughter and applause from the centre court fans. "But don't worry, I will not show it to you tonight."
Djokovic, U.S. Open runner-up to Federer in 2007 and beaten semi-finalist by the Swiss in the last two tournaments, will next face unseeded American James Blake, who advanced against Canadian Peter Polansky.