By Ros Satar, in Cincinnati

  • Novak Djokovic [10] def. Adrian Mannarino 4-6 6-2 6-1
  • Feels no pressure but feels motivated to add elusive Cincinnati title to complete Masters set
CINCINNATI, USA – Novak Djokovic came back from a set down to keep his dreams of a full set of ATP Masters events alive at the Western & Southern Open.

 

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Novak Djokovic [10] def. Adrian Mannarino 4-6 6-2 6-1

Having said after his first match that he could do much better, Novak Djokovic found himself tested once more – to more of an extent – against Adrian Mannarino. In a set that started competitively enough, it was the Frenchman who had the first of the break points chances before finally converting for the fifth time of asking to set the Serbian on the back foot.

It was time for Djokovic to regroup as the pair traded breaks with Djokovic re-establishing his lead, and breaking the Frenchman once more to level the set. It was much more business as usual for Djokovic as he broke twice at the start of the decider, and was able to ride out the rest of the set comfortably.

Djokovic has been a five-time finalist in Cincinnati, but so far the title has eluded him at his fittest form, so it will be fascinating to see if the same hunger and drive that took him to a third Wimbledon title will help him over the line. In the past perhaps the pressure of chasing down a complete set of Masters may have hampered his bids.

He said, after his match: “I think it adds more to the motivation rather than pressure. I really want to win this tournament, and I have been trying. I’m still in the tournament this year, and hopefully I can get a shot at the title.

“But, you know, I need to definitely play better than I have in the first couple matches. But, you know, I have been training a lot and trying to find the game and the level of tennis that I want to be on. I am motivated to get far in this tournament, without a doubt.”

 

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It has been no secret that his comeback has been every bot a roller-coaster as those over the road at the Kings Island Theme park, as he joked in his post-match press-conference. In reality, Djokovic is still searching for the balance between a change in surfaces (from grass to hard), the post-slam-winning dip, and still managing his body after an injury.

He continued: “It might be the case, a little bit of both, I’d say. But I have been in these particular situations before. I was winning Wimbledon in the past and then winning Canada a few weeks after that. So, it’s not something that has been bothering me in the past, so to say, has not been repeating.

“But I’m still trying to find the proper, I guess, level of tennis on the hard court that I, you know, that I wish to be on. And obviously US Open is the biggest tournament this part of the season and the last Grand Slam of the year, so that’s where you want to play your best. But I wish that the best game also comes here. I’m working on it, so let’s see.”

He will play defending champion Grigor Dimitrov, in what ended up as a bad day for the Zverev family. Dimitrov beat Mischa Zverev and No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev was stunned by Robin Haase, leaving him still searching for a first win in Cincinnati.

Play continues subject to rain delays at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday

 

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