All but one of the top eight seeds at the Western & Southern Open didn’t make the quarter-finals in Cincinnati. But top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic remains.
The Serbian won his eighth straight match in Cincinnati and improved to 3-0 against former No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta on Thursday, advancing 6-3, 6-4 to make the last eight at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
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“I don’t think the score indicates how tough it was on the court. We battled it out. I think I was serving really well. That was probably the best shot in the game tonight for me, over 70 per cent of first serves in. Got me out of trouble in the second set when I was facing break points,” Djokovic said.
“I thought he was very solid. Played against him a couple of times and have seen him play, and I knew what quality he possesses, but he did surprise me with his aggressiveness from the back of the court. As soon as he got a little bit of a softer ball from my side, he went for it from both forehand and backhand flat coming in.”
Djokovic broke to love in the sixth game of the opener. Carreno Busta had four break points in the second set, but Djokovic saved them all and gained his vital break during the third game, a 13-point affair.
The 32-year-old will next meet Frenchman Lucas Pouille in a rematch of their Australian Open semi-final in January, which was a straight-sets win for Djokovic. Pouille beat eighth seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-2 to make his third quarter-final – and first at the Masters 1000 level – of the season. It is Pouille’s third Masters 1000 quarter-final and first since 2017 Monte-Carlo.
“It’s been a while… I’m just very happy to be in the form I am right now, to be in the quarter-finals,” Pouille said.
The Frenchman started the year with his best Grand Slam result, but has struggled with consistency since Melbourne. He is 15-15 on the season.