Djokovic through, Serena out of Western & Southern Open


World number one Novak Djokovic was rarely tested in his third round match at the Western & Southern Open as the Serb sailed past Tennys Sandgren 6-2, 6-4 on Tuesday, while American evergreen Serena Williams was surprised by Maria Sakkari of Greece in the women’s singles.

After being troubled by a neck problem earlier in the tournament, Djokovic started to show top form in the third round match against American Sandgren, saving all four break points he faced to advance in just 88 minutes.

In his second round match, Djokovic underwent medical treatment on his neck and he also opted out of the doubles event due to neck pain.

Talking about the problem, Djokovic said: “I’m as close to being painless in my neck as I can be. I’m feeling very good and that has obviously reflected in my game today.”

Djokovic will face German player Jan-Lennard Struff for a semifinal spot in New York.

Elsewhere, Canadian star Milos Raonic earned his first win against Andy Murray of Britain in more than six years, snapping an eight-match losing streak against the former world No. 1 with a 6-2, 6-2 victory.

“I was just a little bit slow. I was really not happy with that at all. I have much higher standards than that. Not good enough tonight,” Murray said.

Raonic will face Filip Krajinovic of Serbia in the next round.

In other men’s singles third round matches, third seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and Spainish eighth seed Roberto Bautista all came through.

In women’s actions, American great Williams was knocked out by Sakkari, who showed stunning power and fighting spirit in the match lasting two hours and 20 minutes.

“It feels pretty good, because Serena has been a role model for me growing up, and obviously what she has achieved is huge. So it feels very nice,” Sakkari said after winning the match 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-1.

In an earlier match, Japanese star Naomi Osaka dispatched Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-3, 6-1 to also make last eight.

Coming up next for Osaka will be No. 12 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia while Sakkari will take on British No. 1 Johanna Konta in the quarterfinals.

In women’s doubles, top seeds Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus made short work of Alexa Guarachi of Chile and American Desirae Krawczyk 6-1, 6-2 to reach the last eight. China’s Xu Yifan and American player Nicole Melichar, seeded second in the event, also reached the quarterfinals.

In men’s doubles, second seeds Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil were sent packing in the second round.

The Western & Southern Open is slated for Aug. 20-28 in New York, at the same site used for the US Open. The hard-court tuneup is normally held in Cincinnati but was moved this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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