CINCINNATI, Ohio (AFP) – Novak Djokovic continued his quest for a first title at the Cincinnati Masters while Roger Federer kept alive his bid for a sixth as the seeded pair advanced into the quarter-finals.
The contrast between the wins could not have been more stark, with top seed Djokovic crushing Belgian qualifier David Goffin 6-2, 6-0 in just 50 minutes on Thursday.
Federer is seeded fifth and was the winner in Cincinnati a year ago on the fast hardcourt where he thrives. He had to rally from the depths after a disaster of an opening set, finally overhauling German Tommy Haas 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
The Swiss has gone back to his traditional racquet after experimenting without much success last month with a larger, more modern model. He said he needed to go back to basics to pull off his 12th win from 15 meetings with Haas, seeded 11th.
“I wasn’t playing great in the first set, I needed to clean up my game from the baseline,” said the crowd favourite and fifth seed. “I’m happy to be through to have another match.
“Sometimes on fast courts it’s tough to get rhythm, you are thinking of too many things. I had to simplify my game in order to win.”
Federer will face off for the 31st time against longtime rival and last week’s Montreal champion Rafael Nadal, winner of eight titles from 11 events this season. The Spaniard got a test from Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov but won 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov upset third seed David Ferrer 6-2, 6-4 as the Spaniard now leaves town with one win from two Masters events over the past fortnight.
In other third-round results, Argentine Juan Martin del Potro beat Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 while American John Isner defeated 12th seed Milos Raonic 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 with the Canadian being treated for shoulder problems.
On the women’s side of the dual event, top seed Serena Williams mowed down German Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-1 to move closer to a first title at the tournament.
“I started out strong and then I made a few errors I shouldn’t have made, but I was able to recover. I knew in the second set I wanted to start strong and just keep the momentum going,” Williams said.
Second seed Victoria Azarenka won a match littered with 13 breaks of serve, defeating Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-4.
“I think it was a pretty good match, there was sometimes a little bit of trouble serving, but overall I felt better than I did in my first match,” said Azarenka. “I was much more controlling the game. It was really up to me today.
“I was doing everything I wanted to do. I feel still there can be a lot more improvement with the execution and a little bit more consistency, but it’s coming along.”
Tenth seed Caroline Wozniacki put out Czech seventh seed Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Giant killer Simona Halep upset Australian 11th seed Samantha Stosur 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, just one day the Romanian stunned Marion Bartoli 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, sending the reigning Wimbledon champ off into an unexpected retirement.
Roberta Vinci claimed an Italian showdown with sixth seed Sara Errani 6-4, 6-3 while former number one Jelena Jankovic beat American Sloane Stephens 3-6, 7-5, 7-5.
Photo Credit: AFP/Ronald Martinez