2020 in Review: Novak Djokovic eases past Jan-Lennard Struff to reach semis

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2020 in Review: Novak Djokovic eases past Jan-Lennard Struff to reach semis

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic reached the Cincinnati semi-final for the eighth time, defeating Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-1 in 62 minutes! Novak advanced to his 68th Masters 1000 semis, moving two clear from Roger Federer and getting closer to Rafael Nadal, who was on 73 at that moment.

In January, Jan-Lennard took a set away from Novak at the Australian Open, competing nowhere near that level in this one and hitting the exit door after the first Masters 1000 quarter-final. Thus, Novak claimed the 21st straight match in 2020, winning the ATP Cup title, the Australian Open and Dubai and hoping for more in Cincinnati, where his only triumph came in 2018.

Djokovic saved two out of three break chances, losing focus for a minute while serving for the victory at 5-0 in the second set and sealing the deal soon after that, stealing almost 60% of the return points and delivering five breaks.

Following neck problems against Ricardas Berankis in the first match, Novak played better against Tennys Sandgren to settle into an excellent rhythm, showing the same form against the German to beat him for the fourth time in as many encounters.

Djokovic had 17 winners and 12 unforced errors, leaving Struff on a negative 11-27 ratio and dominating both the shortest rallies up to four strokes and those more extended to seal the deal in just over an hour. Novak grabbed the opening game at 30 thanks to a service winner, with Struff revealing his powerful serve in game two to level the score at 1-1.

Novak Djokovic sprinted past Jan-Lennard Struff to reach the semis in Cincinnati.

The world's best player secured the third game with a forehand down the line winner and opened a 3-1 gap when Jan-Lennard sprayed a backhand slice error.

Novak confirmed the break with an ace before Struff reduced the deficit to 4-2 with a smash winner, hoping to pull the break back and extend the set. Instead of that, Novak increased the advantage with a forehand winner in game eight, forcing the rival to serve for staying in the set.

Finding the rhythm behind the initial shot in those moments, the German blasted another powerful serve for a hold at 15, prolonging the set and having one more chance to pull the break back. However, that couldn't happen as Novak sealed the opener with a forehand down the line winner for 6-3 after 30 minutes.

Djokovic converted the third break chance at the beginning of the second set, delivered another break after a long rally to open a 3-0 gap. Jan-Lennard received a code violation and experienced another break in game five, pulling one back a few minutes later but sending Novak over the top following the Serb's fourth straight break at 5-1.