(5) Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) D. Mischa Zerev (Germany) 7-6(5), 7-5
It’s oft stated, “championships are earned, not given.”
Mischa Zerev reinforced that thought by putting up a tough fight against defending tournament champion Grigor Dimitrov in he opening match of his title defense on Center Court.
Dimitrov, who was 10-0 in set play during in his run to last season’s Rookwood Cup, moved to 15-5 all-time in Cincinnati.
He advanced another step toward a third straight Cincinnati quarterfinal and is aiming to become to the tournament’s second repeat champion in the past five years.
Seven-time W&S Open Champion Roger Federer won back-to-back titles twice, 2015, 2014, 2010 and 2009.
(10) Novak Djokovic (Serbia) D. Adrian Mannarino (France) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1
Reigning Wimbledon champion and five-time W&S Open finalist Novak Djokovic pressed on to the Round of 16 by bouncing back from a first-set loss to capture 12 of the closing 15 games of the match.
Mannarino, who competed in last season’s tournament third round and is now 0-4 against Djokovic, took the first stanza winning 76 percent of his service points, delivering three aces and earning one break point.
Djokovic did manage to save of three of the four break points he faced in the opener after experiencing a self-described uneasy Tuesday evening.
“I didn’t have a great night and wasn’t feeling that well for the first set-and-a-half. I made it through with the help of the doctor and God,” Djokovic said with a laugh. “Credit to him (Mannarino) for playing well in the first set, but I wasn’t myself.”
Still returning to top form following season-ending elbow surgery last year, he said he will continue to hone his hard court game this week with plans of earning his first Rookwood Cup.
“Patches of the match today were played well, but certain patches, not really well. I’m still trying to find the proper level of tennis on the hard-court. I’m trying to raise the level a little bit each day. As the matches get tougher now and the opponents are higher ranked, I’m going to need that consistency.”
Djokovic’s 29th Cincinnati victory maintains his quest to add the last of the nine ATP Masters1000 titles to his résumé alive.
(3) Sloane Stephens (USA) D. Tatjana Maria (Germany) 6-3, 6-2
World No. 3 and defending U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens motored to the tournament Round of 16 for a fifth time and is two victories away from reaching her second straight semifinal.
Stephens treated patrons with crafty shots, timely runs to the net and stellar service form that helped her win 79 percent of her first service points and 74 percent of her overall service points.
She’s won five of her last six Cincinnati matches and is 13-6 in the tournament since her 2011 debut.
Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) D. (7) Garbiñe Muguruza (Spain) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
Twenty-nine-year-old Lesia Tsurenko notched a match victory against a top-10 opponent for the first time since 2015 while extinguishing two-time Major champion Garbiñe Muguruza’s repeat bid for a W&S Open title.
Muguruza, climbing her way back from an arm injury that forced her retirements at Montréal and San Jose, was on schedule in the first set forcing eight break points, six of which were saved.
“I think it was a very ugly match, but I’m happy that I didn’t feel pain. I competed,” Muguruza said. “I didn’t have a lot of practices to try to recover, so, I had to manage a little.”
Tsurenko countered the opening salvo by picking up her hitting during a second set in which she converted 75 percent of her return points. She closed out landing 77 percent of her third-set serves.
She’ll advance to the tournament third round for the first time after collecting her sixth career top-10 triumph along with her second of that variety against Muguruza.