World number one Novak Djokovic has a remarkably clear road to the ATP Cincinnati Masters final after producing an efficient victory Thursday while third seed Roger Federer crashed out of the US Open tuneup event.
Djokovic was never in danger in his 6-3, 6-4 triumph over 53rd-ranked Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, whom he finished off in 90 minutes.
Federer fell in a first-time meeting with Russian Andrey Rublev, who posted a 6-3, 6-4 upset.
Defending champion Djokovic will continue his quest in a Friday quarter-final, taking on France’s Lucas Pouille, a 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-2 winner over Russian Karen Khachanov.
Djokovic earned his eighth straight victory at Cincinnati on the first of two match points.
“I’m very pleased today. I beat a top quality player,” Djokovic said. “It was straight sets but the score doesn’t indicate how tough it was.
“He had break points in both sets and I got out of trouble with some good serves. Overall, it was a really good match.”
Federer, the seven-time Cincinnati champion who turned 38 last week, was unable to make an impression on Rublev, playing only his second match since losing the Wimbledon final to Djokovic.
“I struggled on my serve early on. Got broken the first service games, and there you have it,” Federer said. “That sort of set the tone for the match maybe a little bit.
“But the combination was tough: he was playing well. I was maybe struggling especially on the offensive. I didn’t think I was feeling the ball badly, but sometimes can’t rely on that serve to the one-two punch.”
Rublev, a 21-year-old Russian qualifier who missed months last season with injury, was shell-shocked at his win over the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
“It’s an amazing feeling when you play such a legend as Roger,” he said. “At least 99 percent of the crowd was supporting him.
“Today I was just trying to do my best. I told myself I need to play every point to the end. No matter what the situation, I kept fighting.”
Swiss third seed Federer went down to the world number 70 in barely an hour, losing for only the 10th time here after winning 47 matches.
“He was super clean,” Federer said. “Defense, offense, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed.”
Rublev earned his second top-five win in a month after beating Dominic Thiem in Hamburg on his way to the final.
Third round results on Thursday at the ATP Cincinnati Masters (x-denotes seeding):
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Pablo Carreño-Busta (ESP) 6-3, 6-4
Lucas Pouille (FRA) bt Karen Khachanov (RUS x8) 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-2
Andrey Rublev (RUS) bt Roger Federer (SUI x3) 6-3, 6-4
Daniil Medvedev (RUS x9) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-2, 6-1
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x11) bt Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-1, 6-2
Richard Gasquet (FRA) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 7-6 (8/6), 6-3
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) bt Alex De Minaur (AUS) 7-5, 6-4
David Goffin (BEL x16) bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-6 (8/6), 6-2
(With AFP inputs)