Djokovic Holds Off Raonic, Continues Career Golden Masters Pursuit
18 August 2018 03:33
Novak Djokovic overcame trouble throughout his quarter-final to remain perfect against Milos Raonic on Friday and move within a match of his sixth Western & Southern Open final.
The five-time Cincinnati finalist beat Raonic 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in his second match of the day because of rain on Thursday. Earlier, Djokovic finished off his comeback against fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov, advancing 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. The third-round match resumed at 2-1 in the third set.
“I’m very pleased with my fighting spirit and staying mentally tough to overcome deficits in both matches," Djokovic said. "Obviously the match against Dimitrov yesterday didn't start so well for me. He started tremendously well. We were not the only ones [dealing with rain interruptions], but it just makes it harder, because you're warming up, you're cooling down.
“We went home around 10:30, came back this morning again to play him, and then [you have a] couple hours of rest. And to go back on the court again against Raonic, who was serving 140-plus miles from the first game, that got me going, for sure, from the beginning.”
Djokovic improved to 9-0 against Raonic in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, although the Serbian's consecutive sets streak against Raonic was snapped at 17 when the Canadian evened the quarter-final by claiming the second set.
That moment could have easily been the end of the match in favour of Raonic. He served for the first set at 5-4, but landed only one first serve and double faulted twice, including on break point, and Djokovic won the next two games for the set.
The Canadian was more than holding his own from the baseline, troubling Djokovic's net approaches with his backhand slice. As customary, he was delivering 140 mph-bombs with his serve. Djokovic, who last beat Raonic at the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals, was giving the World No. 29 a different look, standing much farther back than usual.
And it appeared that would pay dividends when Raonic broke for a 2-1 lead in the decider. But after saving three break points — with an overhead and two massive serves — in the next game, Djokovic broke back. And with a 4-3 lead, the Serbian delivered a deep backhand return off a second serve, which Raonic returned into the net with an inside-in forehand. Djokovic then overcame a 0/30 deficit to close out the match.
Djokovic has won the other eight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. With two more wins, he can become the first player to win the career 'Golden Masters'.
The 31-year-old will next meet Marin Cilic, who beat Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6(7), 6-4 to win his ninth consecutive match in Cincinnati. Cilic is playing at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event for the first time since winning the event in 2016 for his first Masters 1000 title. Djokovic, the 69-time tour-level titlist, leads Cilic 14-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
Did You Know?
Entering the match, Raonic had lost just eight first-serve points combined in three matches. On Friday evening, Djokovic won 15 first-return points against the big-serving Canadian. . read full article