Returning at his best after a slow start of the season, Novak Djokovic became a player to watch in 2018 following the Wimbledon crown. A few weeks later, Novak was a man on a mission in Cincinnati, seeking the only Masters 1000 title he was missing and facing the defending champion Grigor Dimitrov in the third round.
Novak's 30th victory of the season came thanks to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph in two hours and 19 minutes, having to play for two days to beat the Bulgarian due to the rain. Seeking the second win over Novak, Grigor played well in the opening set on the opening night and forged a 6-2 3-1 advantage before losing ground.
Using his experience, Novak got back on the scoreboard and performed a comeback that sent him to the quarter-final for the eighth time in Cincinnati, setting the clash against Milos Raonic a few hours after this one on Friday.
Novak Djokovic beat Grigor Dimitrov in three sets in Cincinnati 2018.
Dimitrov served better but failed to materialize that, winning under 70% of the points behind his first serve and getting broken three times from five chances offered to Novak.
On the other hand, the Serb also lost serve three times, but he played well in the deciding set, dropping six points in five service games and keeping the break he earned on a previous night. In the opening set, Grigor was the dominant player on the court, keeping his service games intact and breaking Novak in games three and seven for a commanding 6-2.
The Bulgarian sealed the set with an ace after 29 minutes, hoping for more of the same in the second. Things went from bad to worse for a former world no. 1, who suffered another break in the second set's third game to find himself 6-2 3-1 down.
From that moment on, Djokovic shifted into a higher gear and rattled off the remaining five games to steal the set 6-3, breaking Grigor in games six and eight and earning momentum ahead of the decider. There, he had a break when they were forced to stop due to rain and continue on the next day.
Novak stayed in front in the remaining games, saving a break point in game eight and sealing the deal with a hold at 5-4 to reach the quarters.