Djokovic eases past Monfils, Alcaraz holds off Paul in Cincinnati 

MASON - Novak Djokovic cruised past Gael Monfils and Carlos Alcaraz fended off in-form American Tommy Paul to reach the Cin­cinnati Open quarter-finals on Thursday while other top seeds Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas were sent packing. Djokovic, twice a win­ner in Cincinnati, dominated the baseline rallies in his 6-3 6-2 win over Monfils and ex­tended his perfect record against the Frenchman to 19-0 - the most lopsided unbeaten ATP head-to-head record in the Open Era. The Serbian made the most of a loose ser­vice game from Monfils and broke to love at 5-3 in the first set to close it out. After racing to a 5-0 lead in the second he faltered on his first attempt to serve it out, but completed the win two games later in an hour and eight minutes. Djokovic will next face home favorite Taylor Fritz. “We’ve been play­ing each other in different parts of the world, also in ju­niors,” Djokovic said. “Early on, I struggled with him physically. We haven’t played for quite a few years. It’s great to see him back playing at a high level.” World number one Alcaraz had not looked like himself in an uneven third round perfor­mance on Tuesday but was fir­ing on all cylinders on Thurs­day as he harnessed his mighty forehand to chip away at Paul’s defenses in the rain-interrupt­ed battle. Paul cracked the code to beat the 20-year-old earlier this month in Toronto but a handful more errors from the 14th seed this time around helped Alcaraz get the upper hand in his 7-6(6) 6-7(0) 6-3 victory. “It was a really tough match,” Alcaraz said. “Really, really happy with the level and think I’m getting better and better.” Alcaraz came back from a break down four times in the first two sets but squan­dered three match points in the second. The Spaniard was serving at 4-3 and up a break in the decider when rain stopped play for over an hour. He broke Paul’s serve again in the final game of the match to book a quarter-final clash with Aus­tralian Max Purcell.

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