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Djokovic shakes off rust, Federer rolls

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, returns a shot to Sam Querrey, of the United States, at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament in Mason, Ohio on Aug 13. (AP)

Venus stuns holder Bertens in Cincinnati, Serena withdraws

CINCINNATI, Aug 14, (RTRS): Novak
Djokovic survived a nervous start to see off Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-1 at the
Cincinnati Masters as the world number one returned to competition for the
first time since beating Roger Federer in last month’s epic Wimbledon final.

Seven-time Cincinnati champion
Federer, also playing his first match since Wimbledon, was quicker to get back
in the groove, needing just 61 minutes to dispatch Juan Londero 6-3 6-4 in
their night match, which was halted in the second set due to rain.

Defending champion Djokovic fired
his 15th ace on match point to defeat Querrey but his serve had been an issue
earlier in their second-round encounter.

“I made three double faults in my
opening game and lost the break. I was quite a nervous at the start,” he said
after falling behind 2-0 to the American.

“I’m really glad to overcome a
challenge like this and get myself going.”

Djokovic, who defeated Federer in
a classic five-set battle at Wimbledon in July, said he had needed time to
recover from the mental strain of that match.

“That was one of the most epic
matches I’ve been a part of and probably the most demanding one from the mental
perspective,” he said.

“So it really did take me some
time to recharge my batteries, especially in my head. My body was fine.”

Djokovic will face either John
Isner or Pablo Carreno Busta in the next round, with a potential quarter-final
meeting with Australian Nick Kyrgios.

Federer will take on Swiss
compatriot Stan Wawrinka or Andrey Rublev in the third round.

Wawrinka overcame Bulgaria’s
Grigor Dimitrov 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(4) in a roller-coaster first-round match.

Dimitrov clawed his way back from
a double break down in the decider to level at 5-5 and after Wawrinka broke
again, Dimitrov forced the tiebreak.

The Swiss surged into a 4-0 lead
but Dimitrov rallied once more before Wawrinka closed out the match with an
ace.

American Frances Tiafoe beat
Frenchman Gael Monfils 7-6(7), 6-3 and Canadian Denis Shapovalov came from
behind to see off Portugal’s Joao Sousa 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Former world number one Venus
Williams, playing what she called “smart” tennis, beat defending champion Kiki
Bertens 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4) in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters before
her sister Serena withdrew due to back problems.

Serena, who was forced her to
retire from the Rogers Cup final on Sunday because of back spasms, had been due
to play Zarina Diyas in the first round as she prepares for her tilt at a 24th
Grand Slam title at this month’s US Open.

After
Venus and Bertens split the first two sets, Williams surged ahead 3-0 in the
third thanks to some excellent volleying but struggled to put her opponent
away, committing numerous errors when serving for the match at 5-3.

Bertens held at 5-5 and then forced
a tie-break with an ace.

Williams, however, took control
of the tie-break, moving ahead 3-0 and 6-2 before sealing the win..

“I just tried not to go too big,
because I can go so big and I have a lot of power and it’s not always easy to
control it,” Williams said.

“So I’m trying to play smart
instead of going hog wild, which is extremely easy to do.”

German 13th seed Angelique Kerber
exited the tournament when she lost to Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 7-6(7), 6-2.
The 23-year-old Kontaveit came from 5-3 down and saved a set point at 6-5 in
the opener against the former world number one.

She broke Kerber twice to win the
second set, winning the first nine points, and two holds to love gave her a 4-0
lead.

Swiss 12th seed Belinda Bencic
retired with a foot injury when trailing Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 1-0. Former
world number one Azarenka will face Donna Vekic in the second round after the
Croatian beat Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-3.

American Madison Keys beat fellow
big hitter Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-4.

Russia’s
Ekaterina Alexandrova wasted little time in beating Carla Suarez Navarro of
Spain 6-4, 6-1 in 56 minutes while China’s Zheng Saisai beat Viktoria Kuzmova
of Slovakia 6-3, 6-1.

Also:

MUMBAI:
Indian tennis players want safety guarantees before they travel to Islamabad
for their Davis Cup tie against Pakistan, captain Mahesh
Bhupathi
said on Wednesday.

Pakistan
last week expelled India’s ambassador and suspended bilateral trade and all
public transport links with their neighbours after New Delhi removed “special
status” from its portion of the contested region of Kashmir.

The nuclear-armed neighbours have
fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from colonial power Great
Britain
in 1947. They came close to a third in February after a
deadly attack on Indian police by a Pakistan-based militant group resulted in
air strikes by both countries.

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