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|NEW YORK - AUGUST 25: Novak Djokovic of Serbia serves to Tennys Sandgren during the Western & Southern Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 25, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP)|
Djokovic, who captured the Australian Open in February, needed six match points to tough out the straight sets victory and reach the quarter-finals of the hardcourt tournament.
Djokovic breezed through the final game by winning four straight points, closing it out with a cross-court forehand winner to take it in 88 minutes on Tuesday.
"All in all it was a great performance," said Djokovic. "I felt better and played better than last night. I am going in a great direction."
American Sandgren, who is ranked 55th in the world, made the Serb work for the victory as he survived five match points in the ninth game of the second set.
Djokovic advances to the quarter-finals where he will play German Jan-Lennard Struff, who defeated seventh seed David Goffin 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
This week's no-spectator event is a tuneup for the US Open which begins on August 31 on the same New York courts. This tournament was moved from Cincinnati to establish a quarantine bubble in New York for the upcoming Grand Slam.
Djokovic jokingly celebrated his win Tuesday by thanking all four sides of the empty stadium.
"I served well," he said. "But I can still get better."
Djokovic had pulled out of doubles on Sunday with pain in his neck, but did not appear to be bothered by the injury against Sandgren.
"The neck is doing well," he said.
In women's action, fourth seeded Naomi Osaka rolled over Dayana Yastremska in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 in the third round.
Osaka, who is one of two top 10 players to reach the third round, clinched the victory when Yastremska was called for a foot fault while serving on match point.
Japan's Osaka blasted eight aces, won 83 percent of her first serve points and broke Yastremska's serve four times.
Osaka moves to the quarter-finals where she will face Anett Kontaveit, who defeated Marie Bouzkova 6-3, 6-3.
Yastremska, who at 20 was the youngest player left in the women's draw, made six double faults and won just 38 percent of her second serves.
In other matches Tuesday, Johanna Konta edged out former winner Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 6-2 to book her spot in the quarter-finals.
The two former top five players battled for 80 minutes with Konta hitting five aces and making just three double faults.
Taking the court later in the day is American Serena Williams who at 38 is one of the oldest players ever in the main draw and is trying to beat her own record by becoming the oldest winner of the event. In 2015 Williams won at age 33.
Also on the men's side, Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, swept past Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-3.