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Djokovic Battles Past Simon To Begin Career Golden Masters Bid

Cincinnati, U.S.A.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic opened his bid for the Career Golden Masters by overcoming Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a second-round battle, Tuesday night at the Western & Southern Open.

"I think I did well for the most of the match," he said. "End of the second, start of the third wasn't that great, but I try to take positives from every match. I know I'm not playing at the level yet where I want to be and it's obvious, but I keep on pushing myself.

"Every day is a new challenge to try to look out for a better game tomorrow and after tomorrow, and hopefully it's going to come."

The top-seeded Serbian, who had fought past Gael Monfils before losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last week in Toronto, fell behind an early break against his third straight French opponent. He quickly reversed the momentum, reeling off four straight games to claim the opening set in 29 minutes.

Djokovic broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set before Simon made a late charge to extend the match. He got back on serve at 4-all, and capitalised on his second set point in Djokovic’s next service game.

Simon saved six break points to start the decisive set, but lost serve on Djokovic’s next opportunity to fall behind 3-4. Djokovic saved Simon’s break point chance in the eighth game, and after waiting out a brief delay due to rain, served out his eighth straight victory over the Frenchman. He improved to an 8-1 mark in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. 

"His lateral movement behind the baseline is very good," said Djokovic. "He's making players play an extra shot, so try to mix it up, change the pace, get the right angle.

"Was working quite well, and then suddenly I start making unforced errors and backed up a little bit and he started dominating the rallies. Then it was a pretty even third set up to the end. But again, it's a fight. I'm just glad I managed to win this one."

Djokovic is attempting to win his first Cincinnati title after four runner-up finishes. Should he triumph this week, he would become the first singles player to complete the career sweep of all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments. In his first attempt at the Golden Masters last year, he lost to American John Isner in the quarter-finals.

He will face either 16th-seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo or American wild card Sam Querrey for a place in the quarter-finals.

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