Top-seed Novak Djokovic breezed through his third-round match while world number two Rafael Nadal was pushed to the limit before he reached the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Masters.
Nadal extended his perfect record against Fernando Verdasco but needed three tiebreak sets to outlast fellow Spaniard 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (11/9), while world number one Djokovic routed Czech Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 in their centre court match.
“It was a very slow kind of ugly match,” said the Serb star. “There are days like this where you don’t feel like playing. But I hate losing, so I need to win.”
Djokovic’s victory over Stepanek improves his record this season to a brilliant 55-1, scoring a perfect 31-0 in hardcourt tournaments.
Third-seeded Swiss star Roger Federer also advanced to the quarters by thumping American James Blake in the evening match, 6-4, 6-1. Federer improved his career record against Blake to 10-1 as the Swiss dominated with his serve, spending a scant 54 minutes on the court, while the 25-year-old Nadal needed three hours and 37 minutes to beat Verdasco.
“The truth is that I am very happy,” said Nadal. “It was a tough match for both of us.”
In other men’s third round matches, Czech Tomas Berdych beat Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-2, 6-2, and fourth-seeded Briton Andy Murray defeated American Alex Bogomolov 6-2, 7-5.
In the women’s draw, fourth-seed Maria Sharapova defeated Russian compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-2, 6-3, while Aussie Samantha Stosur, who had an extra days rest following Serena Williams’ withdrawal a day earlier, upset Li Na of China, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2011.