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Djokovic kicks off quest for Career Golden Masters with tricky win

The world’s top player, Novak Djokovic, began his campaign to complete the Career Gold Masters with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Gilles Simon in the second round of the Western & Southern Open.

He has fallen in the final in Cincinnati four previous times: 2008 to Andy Murray, 2009 to Roger Federer, 2011 to Andy Murray, and again in 2012 to Roger Federer.

Both Djokovic and Simon struggled early with the uncharacteristically cool temperatures and windy conditions. However it was Djokovic who blinked first, dropping his third service game at love on a double fault to give Simon a 3-2 lead.

It wouldn’t last, as Djokovic would show why he has arguably the best return game on the tour and go on to break Simon’s next two service games, winning eight of the ten points in these two games.

Emphatically, Djokovic would close the first set with an ace and a 6-4 score line.

Djokovic looked to have raised his level enough to take the second set handily, breezing past Simon’s defense to build a 4-2 lead behind a lone break of serve.

Uncharacteristic errors would grant Simon two breaks of serve and the second set at a 6-4 score line.

The opening game of the third set would see Simon remarkably save six break points, further frustrating Djokovic with his brilliant defensive game.

Simon let a 40-0 lead slip away in his third service game of the final set before staving off one break point and holding for a 3-2 lead. While he didn’t lose this game, letting that lead slip away was a bit foreshadowing of things to come.

Djokovic followed with a comfortable hold, finally coming to life. Playing more aggressive tennis and using his forehand to dictate points Djokovic would get the third set’s only break.

A light rain threatened play but passed quickly as play was only delayed momentarily while the court was deemed playable.

The momentary rain delay did nothing to slow Djokovic down, as he would close the third set minutes later 6-4.

When asked post-match about his play, Djokovic responded “It’s a fight and I’m glad I managed to win this one.”

Addressing the cool, breezy conditions, Djokovic added, “This is the life of a tennis player. You have to adjust.”

Djokovic advances with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win and will play No. 16 seed Tommy Robredo on Thursday.

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