2019 Cincinnati Masters: Rublev shocks Federer; Djokovic sole top-eight seed in quarterfinals
On a day full of upsets in Cincinnati, Andrey Rublev, on the comeback trail from injury, knocked out seven-time champion Roger Federer in straight sets in the third round of the 2019 Cincinnati Masters.
The defeat was Federer's quickest on the tour in 15 years (outside of the Davis Cup and Olympics), as the match lasted just an hour and four minutes. It was also the Swiss' earliest exit at Cincinnati in 12 years.
The third round in Cincinnati also saw the seventh seed bow out of the tournament as Frenchman Lucas Pouille downed Karen Khachanov in three sets, thereby denying Russia three quarterfinalists in a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time since 2004.
Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, is now the sole top eight seed remaining in Cincinnati after he avoided an upset, cruising past Spanish qualifier Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets.
Earlier in the day, Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka, fresh off a win over his more illustrious compatriot Kei Nishikori in the previous round, moved into his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal with a win over Australia's Alex De Minaur.
Daniil Medvedev, the top Russian in the ATP rankings, beat Stefanos Tsitsipas's conqueror Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets to register his 11th win in 13 matches on the surface. He will now face good friend and compatriot Rublev in his first-ever Cincinnati quarterfinals.
In other third-round matches on the day, Richard Gasquet saved two set points in the first set to get past Argentine Diego Schwartzman and David Goffin overcame Adrian Mannarino to book a second consecutive Cincinnati last-eight berth.
Quarterfinal #1: (1) Novak Djokovic vs Lucas Pouille
The top seed and defending champion moved into an eighth Cincinnati quarterfinal by beating Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round. His clash against Lucas Pouille will be Djokovic's 81st Masters 1000 last-eight match, a mark bettered only by Rafael Nadal (91) and Federer (86).
Pouille recorded his first top ten win of the year by toppling Coupe Rogers semifinalist Karen Khachanov in the third round. This is the Frenchman's first Masters 1000 quarterfinal in over two years (2017 Monte Carlo) and third overall.
In their last meeting, Djokovic beat Pouille in straight sets in the semifinal of the 2019 Australian Open.
Quarterfinal #2: Andrey Rublev vs Daniil Medvedev
The second of two qualifiers to reach the Cincinnati last eight, Rublev produced a monumental upset by toppling seven-time champion Federer in a brisk 64-minute third-round encounter in the pair's first meeting on tour.
In his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal, Rublev will face his good friend and compatriot Daniil Medvedev. The pair's only meeting thus far has come on the Challenger tour in Budapest four years ago which Medvedev won.
Medvedev reached his first Cincinnati and third Masters 1000 quarterfinal of the year by blitzing past German Jan-Lennard Struff in the third round. The top-seeded Russian is in a rich vein of form, having won 11 of his last 13 matches on hardcourt.
Quarterfinal #3: Roberto Bautista Agut vs Richard Gasquet
The 11th ranked Bautista Agut, on the cusp of a top ten debut, beat Serbian teenager Miomir Kecmanovic to move into his first Cincinnati quarterfinal in his fifth appearance at the tournament. This is the Spaniard's third Masters 1000 quarterfinal of the year and sixth overall.
The Doha champion next faces French veteran Richard Gasquet for a place in the semifinals. Gasquet beat Schwartzman in straight sets to reach a 19th Masters 1000 quarterfinal and first since 2018 Monte Carlo. The Frenchman's only previous quarterfinal appearance in Cincinnati was in 2013 when he lost to Andy Murray.
Quarterfinal #4: Yoshihito Nishioka vs David Goffin
Yoshihito Nishioka continued from where he left off against Kei Nishikori, beating young Australian Alex De Minaur to reach a first Masters 1000 quarterfinal where he'll lock horns with Belgium's David Goffin.
One of two qualifiers to reach the Cincinnati last eight, the other being Rublev, 2017 Antalya champion Nishioka has split his two previous meetings on the tour with the higher-ranked Goffin. The pair's last meeting was in the Washington Round of 32 two weeks ago where Nishioka prevailed in a third set tiebreak.
Goffin, meanwhile, moved into his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal of the year, second at Cincinnati (lost to Federer in 2018 semis) and tenth overall by beating Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the third round.
In an open bottom half, the Belgian will fancy his chances of reaching a first career Masters 1000 final.