Djokovic Powers On in Cincinnati; Wozniacki Upset, Serena Returns to Form!
Riding an American wave yesterday proved fruitless last night for Ryan Harrison who had no answer, no option against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. After stunning wins by his compatriots Alex Bogomolov and Christina McHale, the 19-year-old much-hyped Harrison was made to look, well, like a 19-year-old is a 6-2, 6-3 blowout loss to Djokovic.
After trading multiple early breaks Djokovic ran away with the match to raise his jaw-dropping record to 54-1 on the season.
“It was a slow start, not a good start. I was serving not so great today,” said Djokovic who has never won the Cincinnati title. “I think everything else was quite good. From the baseline I wasn’t making a lot of unforced errors. I was returning a lot of balls in and played quite good really for the opening match.”
Today’s challenger comes in the form of the “Worm”, Radek Stepanek who collected his 300th career match win yesterday after beating Andrey Golubev. Unless it’s blazing hot I don’t give much chance to Radek.
In the only big men’s surprise JW Tsonga got bounced by the improving American Alex Bogomolov, Jr. routinely 6-3, 6-4. Bogie now moves on the play Andy Murray today, and he beat the Scot in Miami this March.
“I learned a lot about myself during that match just because it was a lot of pressure,” said Bogomolov. “It was my hometown. It was on the stadium where I grew up in Miami. Now it’s a little bit different. It’s a third round of a Masters  instead of a second round. So as far as game plan, we’re going to have the same game plan going in. Just hopefully it’s going to be a good match, and we’ll go from there.”
Murray got his first Masters hardcourt win of the season bouncing David Nalbandian 6-4, 6-1.
“I thought I played better than I did last week, but the goal when you haven’t been playing for a long time is just to play just a little bit better every day and try and make small improvements,” Murray said. “I was definitely better today than last week. I need to try and keep that up for the next match and hopefully play just five per cent, 10 per cent better tomorrow than I did today. I’ll be happy with that.”
Rafael Nadal and Mardy Fish were also comfortable winners.
The big stories on the day came from the women’s side who lost three big draws. First, paper World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki lost again, this time handing 19-year-old Christina McHale the biggest win of her young career in a 6-4, 7-5 defeat. Does anybody actually think Wozniacki is the best player in the world? Of course not. The Dane hasn’t beaten a Top 20 player since her Brussels title in May and she’s now lost her last three straight matches. But hey, she’s got Rory McIlroy at least.
“I think I made 37 unforced errors; normally I’m seven or eight in a match,” Wozniacki said. “It happens. You have good patches and some rough patches. I’m going to come back and win a lot of matches in the future. Of course I’m disappointed and I would have liked to win, but it’s only this week. Life goes on.”
Credit to McHale for holding her nerves and taking advantage. “I was definitely excited to play her, and I knew the crowd would help me a little bit, being here in the States,” McHale said. “I was just trying to take each point one at a time and not get too focused on who I was playing or the moment.”
Serena Williams, who had been the hottest player in women’s tennis, followed up by announcing her withdrawal from the tournament. Serena cited a right toe injury but we know better. Who can blame her, Kim Kardashian’s Saturday wedding or playing in Cincinnati? Party or work? It was an easy choice and one that maybe confirms that Serena is in fact now 100% back to form both on the court and off it!
In the evening a hand strain kept the fragile Victoria Azarenka from taking the court against Shahar Peer. And so another week and another rash of upsets and injury for the WTA. It’s seems it’s been that way for years.
Today, nothing really screams “watch me”. Fernando Verdasco v. Nadal, Sveta Kuznetsova v. Sharapova and Fish v. Richard Gasquet could be good matches. After his big win Tuesday night, Roger Federer is on in the evening against the rising James Blake in a rematch of their 2007 Cincinnati final.
TV coverage switches to ESPN2 who’ll have it live from 11am-5pm and 7pm-9pm ET.
CINCINNATI THURSDAY SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
F Verdasco (ESP) vs  R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
 S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs  [WC] M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
Not Before 2:30 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs [Q] R Stepanek (CZE) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs [WC] J Blake (USA) – ATP
 L Huber (USA) / L Raymond (USA) vs  V King (USA) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) – WTA
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
 N Li (CHN) vs  S Stosur (AUS) – WTA
 M Fish (USA) vs  R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 2:30 PM
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  G Simon (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
 J Jankovic (SRB) vs  F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs L Dlouhy (CZE) / A Dolgopolov (UKR) – ATP
COURT 3 start 11:00 am
[Q] A Bogomolov Jr. (USA) vs  A Murray (GBR) – ATP
 N Almagro (ESP) vs  T Berdych (CZE) – ATP
[WC] C Mchale (USA) vs N Petrova (RUS) – WTA
 M Bhupathi (IND) / L Paes (IND) vs M Lopez (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs  G Monfils (FRA) – ATP
Also Check Out:
Wozniacki on Serena Williams, Practicing, Giving Little
Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Serena Today At Cincinnati Tennis Masters; Ferrer Upset
Serena, Venus Lead Cincinnati Field
World Tennis Day Is Upon Us, Here’s What On Tap
Caroline Wozniacki: Against Serena, My Father Told Me “Don’t Just Put The Ball Back, Because You Won’t Have A Chance”