Djokovic closer to Cincinnati Open title
MASON, Ohio (AP):
Novak Djokovic inched closer to one of the few titles to elude him throughout his career.
The Serbian overcame an upset stomach and a sluggish first set yesterday, beating Adrian Mannarino 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 before heavy rain halted afternoon matches at the Western & Southern Open.
The 10th-seeded Djokovic demonstrated he's back in form by winning Wimbledon title last month. Now he is trying to get his hard-court game ready for the US Open, the latest step in his long comeback. He has been very inconsistent while changing from grass to hard courts.
"I know from experience it might come very quickly," he said. "So I'm hoping for that."
First, he would love to win a Cincinnati title and complete a personal quest. Djokovic is trying to become the first to win all nine ATP Masters 1000 trophies.
Djokovic has reached the finals at Cincinnati five times and dropped all five matches - three to Roger Federer, two to Andy Murray.
"I think it adds more to the motivation rather than pressure," Djokovic said. "I really want to win this tournament. I definitely need to play better than I have in the first couple of matches."
There was one notable upset in the men's bracket before the rain arrived. Robin Haase beat third-seeded Alexander Zverev 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 for his first victory against a Top 10 opponent since he beat Zverev last November. He's 7-26 overall against Top 10 players.
"Nowadays against Top 10, 20, maybe Top 50, you have to be a little bit lucky," Haase said.
In the women's bracket, defending US Open champion Sloane Stephens overcame a thumb injury during a 6-3, 6-2 victory over qualifier Tatjana Maria.
A trainer applied a bandage to the third-seeded Stephens' right thumb between the third and fourth games of the second set. The match was Stephens' first since losing on Sunday to Simona Halep in the finals at Montreal.
Sloane reached the semi-finals last season in Cincinnati - her best finish - before heading to the US Open and getting the title.
Defending tournament champion Garbine Muguruza had a third-set meltdown and lost to Lesia Tsurenko 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 after a critical double fault.