Djokovic, Isner out; Federer, Serena Advance in Cincinnati
Last year’s finalist, and this year’s 11-seed, John Isner was ousted today by 8-seed Andy Murray 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (2) in front of a stand room only crown on the Grandstand Court, a smaller court that suits Isner’s big service game very well.
Isner had two chances to win the match in the third set at 5-6 on Murray’s serve but could not convert. On the first, he netted a low backhand winner. On the second, Isner hit a backhand wide from behind the baseline.
Isner finished the match with 46 winners, 46 unforced errors, and 21 aces while Murray finished with a cleaner game, making just 21 unforced errors while compiling 14 aces of his own.
While Isner relies heavily on his serve, his forehand is what ultimately determined this match. In the first-set tiebreak, the forehand allowed Isner to take two minibreaks and the tiebreak 7-3. But it failed the top-ranked American in the third and decisive set. At 3-2, Isner put an easy forehand long. He would go on to not win another point as Isner would take the third-set tiebreak 7-2.
“I had lost a few close matches, matches like that, over the last few months, so it was important for me to come through,” Murray said post-match.
Another Western & Southern Open, another year without Novak Djokovic lifting the Rookwood Trophy as the top-seed was ousted by 16 seed Tommy Robredo this afternoon 7-6, 7-5.
The four-time finalist has looked out of sorts since winning Wimbledon in early June and getting married this summer. For the first time since 2008, Djokovic wins one or less matches at consecutive Masters 1000 tournaments.
With Djokovic serving at 5-4 in the second set, Robredo failed to convert on two match points. On Djokovic’s next service game, Robredo would have a third and final match point, which he would convert with an overhead slam on a short lob from Djokovic.
“When I finish my career, and when I will be sitting at home and talking with friends, I will remember days like this,” Robredo said.
Five-time champion Roger Federer survived another tough test, this time besting Gael Monfils 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Monfils, known for showboating and getting careless on court, played attacking, aggressive, no-nonsense tennis as he relentlessly attacked the Federer backhand throughout the match.
Federer was challenged from the start of the match, breaking the Swiss’ serve to open the match. Federer would break back twice to take a 4-2 lead, but not before Monfils broke back and held to level the first set at four all. With Monfils serving to stay in the first set, Federer charged the net behind a slice backhand to force an error and take the first set 6-4.
Late in the second set, Monfils would break Federer on a backhand error for a 5-4 lead. Unlike the first set where Monfils would fail to hold serve to stay in the set, the Frenchman would win the first set on a 92 mile per hour backhand winner down the line past Federer.
Just as Federer let Monfils off the hook in the second set, Monfils would return the favor in the third set. With Monfils serving at 3-4, Federer would break on an inside out forehand that Monfils could not reach. In the following game, Federer would blast a serve at Monfils backhand.
The return would not cross the net as Federer advanced to face Andy Murray Friday night.
Serena Williams continued her quest for her first title in Cincinnati, defeating 13-seed Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2.
Right out of the gate, Williams broke Pennetta serve for a 3-0 lead. “I got the early break, and I didn’t let go,” she said. “That’s what I wanted to do. She can try and come back. She tried to come back, I wanted to stay focused.”
Focused and determined she would stay as she again broke Pennetta’s serve to close out the first set on her seventh set point.
The second set score line is a bit closer than it actually was. Williams again broke Pennetta to open the set, this time doing so twice for a 4-0 lead. A Williams’ mental lapse would allow Pennetta to win both her third service game of the set and break Williams at love to close the game to 4-2. It wasn’t sustained as minutes later Williams would close out the match.
The Men’s Quarterfinals are as followed:  Tommy Robredo v  David Ferrer  Stan Wawrinka v Julien Benneteau  Milos Raonic v  Fabio Fognini  Andy Murray v  Roger Federer
The Women’s Quarterfinals are as followed:  Serena Williams v  Jelena Jankovic  Agnieszka Radwanska v  Caroline Wozniacki  Ana Ivanovic v Elina Svitolina  Simona Halep v  Maria Sharapova