Djokovic crashes out
Novak Djokovic crashed out in Cincinnati (AP)
Novak Djokovic exited the Western & Southern Open at the quarter-final stage after losing to home favourite John Isner.
World number one Djokovic had the chance to make history this week by becoming the first player to win all nine Masters titles, but his hopes of completing the set in Cincinnati were dashed after Isner came through 7-6 (7/5) 3-6 7-5.
Djokovic needed to save a break point in his opening service game against the big-hitting Isner, who suffered a surprise first-round loss to Vasek Pospisil in last week's Rogers Cup.
The match went with serve for the remainder of the set and it was only a Djokovic double fault in the tiebreak that handed Isner the initiative, with the 28-year-old taking full advantage.
Isner once again had the opportunity to break his opponent in the opening game of the next set, but reigning Australian Open champion Djokovic showed his mettle.
Indeed, the Serbian would save seven break points before converting one of his three chances to square the match.
Despite Djokovic taking the momentum into the decider, Isner refused to wilt. The American made his march in the 12th game, but while Djokovic saved the first match point with an ace, he double faulted at the crucial time once more and Isner sealed a memorable win.
Rafael Nadal rallied from a set down to beat old foe Roger Federer 5-7 6-4 6-3.
Nadal extended his winning streak on hard courts to 13 in 2013 as well as putting himself within two matches of a record-equalling fifth Masters crown this year.
"It was very close," Nadal told atpworldtour.com. "He had a good chance in the second. I think I played a good few points in important moments."
Federer labelled the performance a "step in the right direction" after a relatively lean 2013.
"I'm happy with my progress along the way," Federer said. "Could have won tonight, should have won tonight, who knows? But at the end, I think Rafa's confidence and the way he's playing at the moment got him through.
"So for me, I think it was a good step in the right direction."
Juan Martin Del Potro beat Dmitry Tursunov 6-4 3-6 6-1 to complete the semi-final line-up.