The last 16 of the Cincinnati Masters includes a few surprises following the completion of the second round with six of the top names missing, two of which were eliminated on Tuesday.
Of course, it’s great for me to be able to come back to the court and win a match. Obviously mixed emotions with the way it finished Novak Djokovic
Joining Felix Auger Aliassime and Andrei Rublev on flights out of Mason, Ohio on Wednesday, were Casper Ruud (5), Holger Rune (6), Jannik Sinner (8) and Frances Tiafoe (10).
The best win of the day goes to three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, at 38-years of age and following injuries which blighted his career in recent years, upset American favourite Tiafoe 6-3 6-4 with a performance reminiscent of his halcyon days at the top of the game.
The Swiss star, in front of a packed Grandstand, stunned his seeded opponent in 78-minutes to storm into the third round and while home fans may have been disappointed, there were many who were delighted to see the veteran recapture some of his past form.
His groundstrokes were struck with pace and precision as he only lost one point with his first delivery in one of his best serving performances in years.
“It’s been probably the best match of the season, I think the most complete match,” Wawrinka told the ATP Tour website. “I was feeling good, moving well, serving well, being aggressive, staying with him, fighting. I’m super happy and hopefully I can keep playing that well.”
Wawrinka next faces Max Purcell of Australia who downed Norwegian Ruud 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the second upset of the day.
The Norwegian fifth seed was punished for not taking his chances as Purcell claimed a place in the last 16 after one-hour and 59-minutes.
Ruud was only able to convert one of the seven break points he raised.
Despite serving well — Ruud fired 12 aces — he crucially failed to take advantage of the opportunities which came his way.
Purcell though, was on top of his game, breaking Ruud’s serve twice from the three chances he was presented with to secure a clash with the veteran Wawrinka in the next round.
Also out surprisingly, is Italy’s Jannik Sinner, last week’s Canadian Open winner, who couldn’t find an answer to the Czech Dusan Lajovic’s aggressive play conceding the match 6-4 7-6(4).
The fourth ‘upset’ was the unfortunate retirement of Holger Ruud who was trailing Mackenzie McDonald 6-4 2-0 when he threw in the towel after 50-minutes citing a back injury problem.
On a more positive front, Novak Djokovic, after nearly a two-year absence from the USA, made his return and was pleased at securing his first win in the country since the 2021 US Open.
A win is a win but tis one came as a result of another retirement, this time by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who pulled out with a lower back strain after 46-minutes having dropped the first set 6-4.
“I hope Alejandro bounces back to the court quickly, recovers from his lower back injury, that’s what he told me at the net,” Djokovic revealed during his post-match press conference.
“It’s never the way you like to win, I think for the crowd as well. Coming in, they expect to see a battle, they expect to see a match. Of course, it’s great for me to be able to come back to the court and win a match. Obviously mixed emotions with the way it finished.”
And looking ahead to his next match which will be against Frenchman Gael Monfils, a 7-5 6-4 winner over Aussie Alex de Minaur, he added: “He’s an amazing guy. Someone I truly respect and like a lot as a person, “He brings so much joy to the fans, so much entertainment. One of the most charismatic players that we’ve had in the past two decades on the Tour.”
Djokovic could be facing off against Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals after the Russian cruised past Lorenzo Musetti of Italy 6-3 6-2 to meet Alexander Zverev next for a quarter final place in what will be an extremely interesting match-up between two former Cincinnati champions.
Medvedev wasted little time in dispatching Lorenzo Musetti for the second time in six days, having faced the Italian at last week’s Canadian Open.
Apart from losing his opening service game, Medvedev was never troubled, dominating behind his first serve and hitting 25 winners as he completed a 6-3 6-2 victory.
“I think it’s tough for anyone to be comfortable [quickly] here,” Medvedev said, in comments on the ATP Tour website. “Tough conditions here, they changed the court.
“But then it comes [down] to being the better in the tough conditions, and that’s what I managed to do today.
“We both made some mistakes, we both made some double faults and stuff like this, but I managed to be a little bit better in important moments and actually, I felt like I was playing better and better during the match. So that’s a positive thing for the next round.”
Medvedev won this event back in 2019 and takes on Alexander Zverev, the 2021 champion next after the German battled past Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5 6-4.
Zverev was forced to dig deep but eventually prevailed when he broke Nishioka late in the second and served out the straight-sets win.
Meanwhile former finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas survived two breakers to beat 20-year-old Ben Shelton of the US, 7-6(3) 7-6(2).
Neither player held break points during the match with Tsitsipas losing three points on his first serve, and Shelton seven! In the actual tie-breaks, Tsitsipas’ superior speed and experience proved invaluable.
Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz eliminated the defending champion Borna Coric of Croatia 5-7 6-3 6-3after two-hours and 15-minutes.
Also, ninth-seeded Taylor Fritz got the better of Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 7-6(1).