Novak Djokovic came to Cincinnati 2018 with one goal, seeking an elusive title that had been running away from him after losing five finals! Novak faced Milos Raonic in the semi-final and prevailed 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 31 minutes, reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final since Shanghai 2016!
It was their ninth meeting, and the Serb remained dominant, taking 21 out of 23 sets against the Canadian! Milos had his chances. He led 5-3 in the opener before losing the next four games. Also, he squandered an early lead in the deciding set, ending on the losing side and finishing his run in the quarter-final.
Raonic had 21 aces. However, Novak gave his best on the return, reading the rival's serve well and creating 14 break chances. Djokovic converted four in sets one and three to emerge at the top and remain on the title course. 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 efficiently, 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.
Novak Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic in the 2018 Cincinnati quarter-final.
Novak stayed in touch with Milos in the quickest rallies. He forged a slight edge in the mid-range and extended exchanges, winning five points more and wrapping 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. He denied 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.
The Serb angrily smashed his racquet and found 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 and suffered a break. Djokovic gained a boost and clinched the set 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, never facing a break point and 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.
Raonic served well and secured this part of the encounter on his fourth set point in game ten after forcing Novak's error to 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 his 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. Djokovic clinched another break at 4-3 when Milos netted a forehand and sealed the deal with a forehand winner on his serve a few minutes later to set the clash against Marin Cilic.