CLEVELAND — Novak Djokovic dumped a backhand into the net and stood in place for a moment, stunned by another upset in Cincinnati.
It’s the only place where he can’t win.
Top-ranked American John Isner ended Djokovic’s attempt to make ATP history today, beating the world’s No. 1 player 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-5 in the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Open.
Djokovic has never won in Cincinnati, the only Masters event that has eluded him during his career. He has lost in the finals four times, including last year to Roger Federer. All he needs to do is hoist the winner’s trophy one time in Cincinnati to become the first player to win all nine Masters events.
Wait until next year. Again.
“It’s disappointing that I played this way,” Djokovic said. “For me, it’s very disappointing.”
Isner reached the semifinals in Cincinnati for the first time, knocking off a world No. 1 for only the second time in his career. His other No. 1 upset? He beat Djokovic at Indians Wells in the semifinals last year for his only career win against him.
“A fantastic win for me,” Isner said. “Certainly one of my greatest memories as a tennis player.”
He’ll play seventh-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, who advanced today by beating qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Del Potro is in the semifinals for the second year in a row.
In the women’s draw, 14th-seeded Jelena Jankovic beat 12th-seeded Roberta Vinci 6-0, 6-4 to reach the semifinals for the third time. She won the tournament in 2009 and lost the title match to Maria Sharapova in 2011.
“I love playing here in Cincinnati because I have great results in the past,” said Jankovic, who fought off eight of nine break points in the second set. “So that always helps. I mean, I was a finalist and a champion before, so you always love coming back to places where you can win.”
He played poorly last year in his loss to Federer in the finals. He was off again today, which was especially frustrating since he came into the tournament motivated to make ATP history by winning it.
“I just played a very bad match overall,” he said. “Terrible match. From beginning to end, except the start of the second set, I was just a different player totally.” (AP)