Defending US Open champ Stephens wins Cincy opener
MASON, Ohio (AP) — Novak Djokovic completed his comeback from elbow surgery by winning Wimbledon for the fourth time. He’s inching closer to one of the few titles to elude him throughout his career.
Djokovic overcame an upset stomach and a sluggish first set Wednesday, beating Adrian Mannarino 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 before heavy rain halted afternoon matches at the Western & Southern Open.
The 10th-seeded Djokovic demonstrated he’s back in form by winning another Wimbledon title last month. Now he’s trying to get his hard-court game ready for the U.S. Open, the latest step in his long comeback. He’s been inconsistent while changing from grass to hard courts.
“I know from experience it might come very quickly,” he said. “So I’m hoping for that.”
First, he’d love to win a Cincinnati title and complete a personal quest. Djokovic is trying to become the first to win all nine ATP Masters 1000 trophies.
Djokovic has reached the finals at Cincinnati five times and dropped all five matches — three to Roger Federer, two to Andy Murray.
“I think it adds more to the motivation rather than pressure,” Djokovic said. “I really want to win this tournament. I definitely need to play better than I have in the first couple of matches.”
There was one notable upset in the men’s bracket. Robin Haase beat third-seeded Alexander Zverev 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 for his first victory against a Top 10 opponent since he beat Zverev last November.
“Nowadays against Top 10, 20, maybe Top 50, you have to be a little bit lucky,” Haase said.
Defending champion Grigor Dimitrov beat Mischa Zverev 7-6 (5), 7-5, extending his recent success in Cincinnati. He won his first Masters title at the Western & Southern last year without dropping a set, and he’s won all four sets this year.
In the women’s bracket, top-ranked Simona Halep led 4-6, 6-3, 4-3 on Wednesday night when more rain forced her match against qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic to be suspended overnight. The winner would then play an evening match.
Halep won her second Rogers Cup title last week, beating Sloane Stephens in the final, and had some trouble with her back on Wednesday. She grabbed it after a 105 mph serve in the second set. Halep called a medical timeout for treatment after dropping the first three games of the third set.
Halep returned and ran off four straight games against the 58th-ranked Tomljanovic before a storm moved in.
No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki retired after losing the first set to Kiki Bertens 6-4 because of an injured left knee, her second straight disappointing exit from a tournament. Wozniacki lost her opening match last week in Montreal.
Stephens — the defending U.S. Open champion — overcame a thumb injury during a 6-3, 6-2 victory over qualifier Tatjana Maria.
A trainer applied a bandage to the third-seeded Stephens’ right thumb between the third and fourth games of the second set. The match was Stephens’ first since losing Sunday to Halep in Montreal.
Sloane reached the semifinals last season in Cincinnati — her best finish — before heading to the U.S. Open and getting the title.
Defending tournament champion Garbine Muguruza had a third-set meltdown and lost to Lesia Tsurenko 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 after a critical double fault.
The seventh-seeded Spaniard was up 4-2 and serving in the third set when she double faulted to drop the game, a look of disbelief coming across her face after her final serve went long. Given the reprieve, Tsurenko closed it out.
Muguruza suffered a second-round loss at Wimbledon and withdrew from San Jose and Montreal with a sore right arm. She said her arm wasn’t an issue as much as her lack of practice in the last couple of weeks because of the injury.
“I’m happy that I didn’t feel pain,” she said. “I’m going to take that positive and keep training for the U.S. Open.”