For the second straight match, Novak Djokovic had to fight to get through a Spanish opponent. Sunday evening, he went four sets with the lightly-regarded Roberto Bautista Agut. Last night, another four sets, this time with lefty Feliciano Lopez.
The two had met five times before with Djokovic winn 10 of 11 sets, but Lopez proved a worthy opposition pushing the World No. 1 and even holding break points in the fourth before losing 61, 36, 63, 76(2).
After, Djokovic didn’t sound particularly pleased with his play.
“Just frustrating you play one sloppy service game in the beginning,” Djokovic said about getting broken at the start of the second. “Was 30-Love in that game and I allowed him to break me and the set was gone. I thought I played a pretty good first set, and then after that, you know, I was just trying to hang in there and wait for the opportunities. I played good beginning of the third. Fourth was anybody’s game, really. Didn’t have many chances on his service games. Played a very good tiebreak. That’s a positive.
“Obviously always things you could have done better, but it’s a win in four sets against a player who is in form, playing well in Cincinnati, playing with the confidence, and winning against some top players.
“Just didn’t want to lose the concentration, and unfortunately it happened. I had a couple of break points in the first game of the second set, and obviously maybe the story would be different if I broke him there.”
The good news for Novak is he’ll have two full days to tune his game before his semifinal showdown with defending champion Marin Cilic. Djokovic leads Cilic 13-0 but is wary of the Croat’s threat.
“He hasn’t lost a match, you know, 12, 13 matches in a row, so I’m sure that he feels confident,” Djokovic said. “He won today a really close match. A couple of five-setters he had already in this tournament. But he has a big serve. I think around 30 aces he had today, so the serve gets him out of trouble. I know him very well. I have played with him many, many times. We are great friends. Great guy. I know what to do, and I’m opening I can execute the game plan obviously and play my best.”
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