Djokovic, Ser­ena through to quar­ter­fi­nals

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY JOE KAY

Novak Djokovic smacked his racket on the court af­ter los­ing serve, seem­ingly headed for another un­ex­plain­able loss at a tour­na­ment that has eluded him. In the end, he stopped fum­ing and started play­ing like the best.

The top- ranked Serb ral­lied from a 3-0 deficit in the fi­nal set to a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 vic­tory over David Gof­fin on Thurs­day, reach­ing the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Western & South­ern Open.

Third-seeded Andy Mur­ray also needed a late surge. He re­cov­ered from a 5-2 deficit in the third set, sur­vived a match point, and pulled out a 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5 vic­tory over Grigor Dim­itrov in a match that lasted 2 hours, 58 min­utes.

Ser­ena Wil­liams moved on to the quar­ter­fi­nals as well, los­ing only two games in her lop­sided match. She’s the tour­na­ment’s de­fend­ing cham­pion.

Djokovic has never won Cincinnati. He’s try­ing to be­come the first player to win all nine ATP Mas­ters events in a ca­reer.

“It was a solid first set, but what­ever hap­pened in the next 45 min­utes — I don’t want to re­mem­ber it,” Djokovic said. “I wasn’t on the court. You know, I just lost the in­ten­sity and con­cen­tra­tion. Luck­ily for me, I man­aged to bounce back, dig my­self out of this hole I was in.”

With things fall­ing apart in the sec­ond set, Djokovic slammed his racket three times, draw­ing a warn­ing. And it kept get­ting worse against Gof­fin, a 24-year-old Bel­gian who is 1-20 against top-10 play­ers. Fi­nally, Djokovic pulled him­self to­gether and pulled it out.

Djokovic will face fifth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who beat him for the French Open ti­tle. Wawrinka pulled out a 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) win af­ter Ivo Karlovic dou­ble­faulted on match point.

Mur­ray beat Djokovic to win the ti­tle in Mon­treal on Sun­day. He’ll play Richard Gas­quet in the quar­ter­fi­nals as he tries to be­come the sev­enth man to win Mon­treal and Cincinnati back-to-back.

Like Djokovic, he needed a fast fin­ish to keep go­ing.

“You see Novak’s match ear­lier to­day, he gets a cou­ple of breaks and it’s not im­pos­si­ble to get back in there,” Mur­ray said. “There were many, many im­por­tant points in that match. I’m not quite sure how I man­aged to get through it.”

Eighth-seeded Rafael Nadal lost to fel­low Spa­niard Feli­ciano Lopez 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (3). Nadal, com­ing off a rain-de­layed match that ended at 12:43 a.m., fell be­hind 3-1 in the third-set tiebreaker and never re­cov­ered.

“I was there dur­ing the whole match with the right in­ten­sity, with the right at­ti­tude, do­ing the things that I have to do, try­ing to be more ag­gres­sive, try­ing to go to the net more of­ten,” Nadal said. “That’s what I did. But to­day I played against an op­po­nent that played a fan­tas­tic match.”

Lopez will play Roger Fed­erer, the six-time tour­na­ment cham­pion who beat Kevin An­der­son 6-1, 6-1 in only 55 min­utes to reach the quar­ter­fi­nals.

“It’s a plea­sure to play that way be­cause it doesn’t hap­pen very of­ten that you feel this good,” said Fed­erer, who had only eight un­forced er­rors.

On the women’s side, Wil­liams needed only 54 min­utes to beat Karin Knapp 6-0, 6-2. She lost just 12 points while win­ning the first nine games.

Wil­liams, the de­fend­ing Cincinnati cham­pion, is us­ing the tour­na­ment as a fi­nal tuneup for the U.S. Open, where she’ll try to com­plete a cal­en­dar Grand Slam sweep. Her quar­ter­fi­nals op­po­nent is Ana Ivanovic, who beat Sloane Stephens 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Wil­liams beat Ivanovic in straight sets to win her first Cincinnati ti­tle last year.

“It will be a re­ally good match for me and kind of test where I am, you know, just in gen­eral,” Wil­liams said. “Yeah, so I look for­ward to that.”

A right fore­arm in­jury forced Swiss teen Belinda Ben­cic to with­draw af­ter she dropped the first set against sev­enth-seeded Lu­cie Sa­farova. The 12th-seeded Ben­cic said she didn’t think the in­jury was very se­ri­ous, but it was too soon to know if she could play in next week’s tour­na­ment at New Haven, Con­necti­cut. The 18-yearold said her fore­arm has been sore for some time.

Ben­cic was com­ing off the big­gest mo­ment of her brief ca­reer. She up­set Wil­liams in the semi­fi­nals at Toronto last week and went on to win the tour­na­ment.

Vic­to­ria Azarenka be­came the fourth woman to with­draw from the tour­na­ment when she had to quit her evening match against Anas­ta­sia Pav­lyuchenkova be­cause of an in­jured up­per left leg. It both­ered her as she won the first set 6-1, and she quit three games into the sec­ond set.

“Such a short pe­riod of time be­fore the U.S. Open, it’s a lit­tle bit dan­ger­ous,” she said. “I had to un­for­tu­nately make that de­ci­sion. It hurts a lit­tle bit be­cause I have been play­ing so well. Ob­vi­ously I felt like I had that match in con­trol.”

(Right) Feli­ciano Lopez, of Spain, re­turns the ball to Rafael Nadal, of Spain, dur­ing a match at the Western & South­ern Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Ma­son, Thurs­day.

AP

(Above) Rafael Nadal, of Spain, re­turns to Feli­ciano Lopez, of Spain, dur­ing a match at the Western & South­ern Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Ma­son, Ohio, Thurs­day, Aug. 20.

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