Competing in Cincinnati as world no. 10 three years ago, the five-time beaten finalist Novak Djokovic advanced into the first Masters 1000 semi-final since Shanghai 2016. Novak took down Milos Raonic 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 31 minutes.
It was their ninth meeting, and the Serb remained a dominant figure, taking 21 out of 23 sets against Milos! The Canadian had his chances, leading 5-3 in the opener before losing the next four games and squandering an early lead in the deciding set to end on the losing side and finish his run in the quarters.
Raonic had 21 aces, but Novak gave his best on the return, reading the rival's serve well and creating no less than 14 break chances, converting four in sets one and three to emerge at the top. The Serb did more damage with his second serve, repelling five out of eight break points to enter his sixth Cincinnati semi-final.
Djokovic tamed his shots nicely, hitting 23 winners with 17 unforced errors. In comparison, Raonic counted 43 winners and 50 mistakes, giving his best from the baseline against the mighty opponent but falling short in the end.
In Cincinnati 2018, Novak Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic in the quarters.
Novak stayed in touch with Milos in the quickest rallies and had a slight edge in the mid-range and extended exchanges to win five points more overall and wrap up another good victory after an early exit in Toronto a week earlier.
Raonic made the worst start and faced five break points in game two, saving them to keep his serve intact after over 14 minutes! Missing his opportunities, Novak got broken in game seven after Milos' great return that he failed to control, breaking his racquet in anger and finding himself 5-3 down after four service winners from the Canadian in the next one.
Serving for the set at 5-4, Raonic hit a double fault to suffer a break and allowed Djokovic to grab the set in 64 minutes with another break in game 12 after the seventh double fault from the lower-ranked player. Milos started to defend his second serve more efficiently in set number two and never faced a break point, waiting patiently for his chance on the return.
It came in game three when he broke Novak after a 22-shot rally and a forehand winner, securing this part of the encounter on his fourth set point in game ten after forcing Novak's error to grab it 6-4 and force a decider.
The Canadian moved 2-1 up with a forehand down the line winner, having to serve well by the end to notch the first triumph over the Serb. That was easier said than done, though, as Novak broke back in the next game to level the score at 2-2 and gain momentum.
In game nine, Djokovic clinched another break at 4-3 when Milos netted a forehand and sealed the deal with a forehand winner to set the clash against Marin Cilic.