The two best players from the 2019 summer hardcourt circuit are one win from another meeting Thursday at the Cincinnati Masters in New York. Last night, Novak Djokovic looked in trouble not just with his game but with his neck during a tough win over qualifier Ricardis Berankis. Today, the World No. 1 showed no signs of neck problems in a convincing 6-2, 6-4 romp over Tennys Sandgren.
“I’m as close to painless neck as I can be,” Djokovic said. “I’m feeling very good and that has obviously positively reflected on my game today.”
Djokovic is now 20-0 on the year and overall he’s won his last 23 matches. One of this wins came in four sets against his next opponent, Jan-Lennard Struff. The German upended 2019 finalist David Goffin 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to reach his first career Masters quarterfinal.
“It will be very nice. I played him at the Australian Open, which was a very good match, I think, a very good match for me,” Struff said. “I would love to play him again.”
If Djokovic gets through, he could face Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals. The big Russian won his 8th straight match at the tournament racing past qualifier Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-3.
“I returned much better than yesterday and was more solid,” said Medvedev. “To win by this score and quite easily against Aljaz is a big challenge. I got used to the conditions better today. It wasn’t easy for him as it was already his sixth match and I just took my chances. I don’t feel the courts are extra fast this year.”
Medvedev will meet Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarters. The Spaniard knocked out Medvedev countryman Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to return to the Cincinnati quarterfinals.
American big men had a mixed day. Reilly Opelka reached his first Masters quarterfinal by defeating 2019 US Open finalist Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 7-6(4). The 6-foot-11 Opelka hammered 19 aces and tagged the Italian on match point.
“I’m pretty pleased. It’s difficult. There have been so many unknowns for everyone over the past couple months, so it’s always hard to say,” Opelka said. “But I’ve put in a lot of work, I used this time to train. I didn’t take much time off, I really didn’t. I’m not surprised, but at the same time you don’t know what to expect.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas put together two good tiebreaker to beat John Isner.
Milos Raonic outlasted a 90-minute rain delay and Andy Murray 6-2, 6-2. Raonic hasn’t lost a set nor serve in the event and the win ended a 8-match losing streak to the Scot.
The Canadian will now face Filip Kranijovic who blew out Marton Fucsovics.
CINCINNATI WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE
Elise Mertens (BEL) vs. Jessica Pegula (USA)
Not Before 1:00 pm
Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
Not Before 5:00 pm
Johanna Konta (GBR) vs. Maria Sakkari (GRE) OR Serena Williams (USA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
Milos Raonic (CAN) vs. Filip Krajinovic (SRB)
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