World no. 1 and the defending Cincinnati champion Novak Djokovic hasn’t repeated the error that Roger Federer made earlier against Andrey Rublev, defeating Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 30 minutes. It was the 347th Masters 1000 victory for the Serb and the 34th at this event, dropping 17 points in ten service games and fending off all four break points in two loose service games.
On the other hand, the Serb won 40% of the return points, scoring one break in each set to advance into the ninth quarter-final here and the 81st overall at the Masters 1000 series, standing as the favorite to repeat the last year’s success and won the 34th trophy at this series to stay close to Nadal.
Djokovic fired 30 winners and 22 unforced errors while Carreno Busta counted to 15 winners and 17 errors, taking advantage in the most extended rallies but standing far behind Novak in the shortest and the mid-range exchanges to hand the victory to the Serb, the third in as many matches.
The opening set lasted for just over 30 minutes and Novak controlled the pace with 13 winners and only five unforced errors, dropping four points on serve and breaking Carreno Busta at love with a forehand crosscourt winner at 3-2 to open the gap.
Serving for the set in the ninth game, the Serb wrapped it up with a service winner, seizing that opportunity he got in the Spaniard’s loose service game and moving closer to the finish line. In the second game of the second set, Djokovic netted a backhand to offer two break chances to Pablo who sprayed two forehand errors on both (had a great chance on the first), wasting game points in the next game to suffer a break after a forehand error and fall 2-1 down.
Carreno Busta had to play against two break point at 1-3 as well, repelling them with two winners and earning a chance to pull the break back in the eighth game when he once again had two chances for a break. Lacking the first serve at that moment, Djokovic fired two service winners when he needed them the most, bringing the game home following a backhand error from the Spaniard and serving for the victory at 5-4.
A backhand crosscourt winner was the shot that propelled Novak into the quarter-final, facing Lucas Pouille in the last match of the Friday’s program and seeking the spot in the semi-final.