A Pair Of Cincinnati Masters, Djokovic And Federer, Begin Their Title Quest With Easy Wins

CINCINNATI, August 14, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

Defending Cincinnati Masters champion Novak Djokovic and seven-time title winner Roger Federer highlighted play in the Western & Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center on Tuesday.

World No. 1 Djokovic defeated 45th-ranked American wild card Sam Querrey, 7-5, 6-1, in his first Cincinnati Masters match since winning last year’s title following five runner-up finishes. Djokovic’s 2018 title triumph enabled him to become the first player to win all nine ATP Masters 1000 events at least once.

While the Serbian came into his meeting with Querrey having won eight of their 10 lifetime matches, the American won their most recent skirmish, at Wimbledon in 2016. This time, Djokovic dominated the one hour and 18 minute Center Court match by firing 15 aces and won 70 percent of his service points. He broke Querrey four times while only being broken once, at the beginning of the match.

“The fact that I’m a reigning champion wasn’t affecting me positively or negatively. There was just excitement to be back on the court competing because it’s been quite awhile since the Wimbledon final,” said Djokovic, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “But at the same time, I had the nervous start because I haven’t played a match in four weeks. It took a while to adjust to his big game. I made three double faults in the opening game and didn’t have the greatest of starts.

“It was a tricky match, a quality and opponent and a big challenge, but I’m happy to be tested right from the start. Hopefully the next performance will be even better.”

Next, Djokovic will next face 53rd-ranked qualifier Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain, who saved one match point to overcome No. 13 seed John Isner of the United States, 6-4, 6-7(1), 7-6(6) in two hours and 33 minutes.

Meanwhile, Federer began his quest for an eighth Cincinnati title as he faced 55th-ranked wild card Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina for the first time and won 6-3, 6-4. It was his first match since losing the Wimbledon final to Djokovic last month as well as his first time on court after turning 38 years-old last week. The World No. 3 came into Tuesday evening’s featured Center Court match with a 46-9 career record in Cincinnati (he’s played 15 times) and has won the title four times since 2010, while Londero is one of 13 first-time ATP singles champions on tour. He won at Córdoba and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros in his first Grand Slam main draw.

Despite a one-hour rain delay early that came early in the second set, Federer made quick work of Londero and advanced to the third round. The Swiss maestro struck nine aces and won 79 percent of his service points. He saved the only break point he faced during the 61 minute match.

Around the Cincinnati Masters

• An interesting first-round encounter paired 2017 Cincinnati champion Grigor Dimitrov from Bulgaria, whose ranking has dropped to No. 74, against three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. It was the fifth career meeting between Dimitrov and the 23rd-ranked Wawrinka in just over a year, and the fourth to come in the first round of an ATP Masters 1000 or Grand Slam event, including at Montreal last week. On Tuesday afternoon, it was a rollercoaster of a match between the two and after squandering a double break in the third set, Wawrinka prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to advance. Next, the Swiss star plays 70th-ranked qualifier Andrey Rublev from Russia, who took out No. 15 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2. The winner will meet No. 3 seed Roger Federer in the third round.

“It helps a little bit to have won the past few matches against him, but before that he was beating me most of the time. I knew I could expect a tough match,” said Wawrinka after his win, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “It’s a first round and you never play your best tennis, but the most important thing is to fight. I’m happy with the win.”

Meanwhile, Dimitrov’s win-loss record continues to slip, falling to 12-15 this season and 1-6 since Roland Garros.

• No rest for the weary as World No. 8 Daniil Medvedev of Russia, who has reached two consecutive finals at Washington and Montreal, faced 30th-ranked Kyle Edmund in a first-round match just two days after losing the Rogers Cup final to Rafael Nadal. He beat the Briton, 6-2, 7-5, in 78 minutes by taking the last four games of the match for his 26th hard court victory of the season, which leads the ATP. Medvedev beat Edmund, 6-3, 6–0, last week in Montreal.

• Wild card Reilly Opelka of the United States fired 27 aces in a rain-delayed 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over No. 12 seed Borna Coric from Croatia. “My serve was more effective in the three games I played today than last night,” the 42nd-ranked Opelka told Tennis Channel during an interview after his win. Rain suspended play Monday night during the third set.

• For the second time this month, doubles World No. 1s Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah faced Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas in a first-round match – the first time was two weeks ago at Washington – and for the second time the Colombians prevailed over the “dream team,” winning 6-1, 7-6 (8).

Other Tuesday winners included: No. 11 seed Roberto Bautista Agut (over Hubert Hurkacz), No. 16 seed David Goffin (over Taylor Fritz), Benoit Paire, Frances Tiafoe, Denis Shapovalov and Diego Schwartzman.

By the numbers

Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States reached 1,100 tour-level doubles wins when they defeated Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin, both from France, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 10-7, Monday night.

“It’s a staggering number when you look at it. We thought we’d be stuck on whatever number we were at last year. I was just trying to get back out there to play one more match,” said Bob Bryan, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “The bar has been set a little bit lower, but as we’re winning and getting more confidence, our goals are getting loftier.”

• Sam Querrey, who faced World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, came into Tuesday’s play with a 21-60 record against Top 10 players in his career. Additionally, the American was 2-9 against players ranked World No. 1. His two wins over World No. 1 players were both at Wimbledon – against Djokovic in 2016 (third round) and Andy Murray in 2017 (quarterfinals).

• Kyle Edmund, who lost to No. 8 Daniil Medvedev in Tuesday’s first round, is now 2-22 vs. players ranked in the Top 10.

What they’re writing

Ben Rothenberg, New York Times tennis correspondent, from “Murray Returns to Singles With Loss and Perspective”: “Andy Murray was hardly in vintage form on Monday, when he returned to singles tennis seven months after seeming ready to bid farewell to the sport.

“Dusting off a game coated with rust, Murray lost to Richard Gasquet, 6-4, 6-4, in the first round of the Cincinnati masters, but he showed flashes of the game that had taken him to the No. 1 ranking and three Grand Slam titles.”