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Djokovic vs Carreno Busta tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Djokovic continues Cincinnati Masters title defense

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 15 Aug 2019
  • Novak Djokovic faces Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round of the Cincinnati Masters
  • Djokovic vs Carreno Busta is live from Cincinnati on Thursday at 7pm local/12am BST
Novak Djokovic (PA Sports)

Defending champion Novak Djokovic faces Pablo Carreno Busta, a former top-10 player in the Cincinnati Masters draw as a qualifier, for a place in the quarterfinals.

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Novak Djokovic continues his title defense as he takes on qualifier Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round of the Cincinnati Masters on Thursday.

Djokovic celebrates victory over Sam Querrey (PA Sports)
Djokovic completed one of the more extraordinary feats of his glittering career in Cincinnati 12 months ago when he defeated Roger Federer in the final to claim the title after having finished runner-up five time. It was the only Masters 1000 Series title he had never won, and by winning it, he became the first man to complete the ‘career Masters Slam’, winning each of the nine Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP Tour at least once.

Second only to Rafael Nadal’s 35 Masters titles with his own career total of 33, Djokovic opted to sit out the Canada Masters, missing the chance to potentially tie Nadal at 34 and certainly making it much easier for the Spaniard to extend his lead. But Djokovic thinks in bigger terms than one Masters 1000 Series event these days, and he made the choice to prioritize rest and recovery after the exertions of winning his fifth Wimbledon title.

Judging by his opening victory over Sam Querrey at the Cincinnati Masters, it certainly doesn’t seem to have done him any harm. It wasn’t a flawless performance from Djokovic, who was broken in his opening service game and had to save break points in multiple games early in the second set, but it was more than good enough against a dangerous opponent in Querrey. Djokovic efficiently smothered his opponent from the baseline, denied him his usual allowance of free points on his serve, and wrapped up a 7-5, 6-2 victory in 78 minutes – the 36th match win of his season.

‘The fact that I’m a reigning champion wasn’t affecting me positively or negatively. There was just excitement to be back on the court competing because it’s been quite a while since the Wimbledon final,’ Djokovic said afterwards. ‘But at the same time, I had the nervous start because I haven’t played a match in four weeks. It took a while to adjust to his big game. I made three double faults in the opening game and didn’t have the greatest of starts.

‘It was a tricky match, a quality and opponent and a big challenge, but I’m happy to be tested right from the start. Hopefully the next performance will be even better.’

Djokovic was originally seeded to face John Isner in the third round in what would have been an interesting match as the US Open (and Djokovic’s title defense there) approaches, but instead he will face qualifier Pablo Carreno Busta in what looks likely to be a less challenging encounter.

Pablo Carreno Busta (PA Sports)
A top-10 player in September 2017 after his run to the US Open semifinals, Carreno Busta has the rather unenviable task of trying to simultaneously compete with and replace Spain’s golden generation of Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez etc. The 28-year-old, who won his solitary ATP Tour title on clay in Estoril in 2017, had a decent 2018 season which included a Masters 1000 Series semifinal in Miami and quarterfinals in Rome and Cincinnati, but his failure to defend his US Open semifinal points – he retired in the second round against Joao Sousa – saw him slip out of the top 20 and he only played three more matches in 2019, losing all of them.

In 2019, Carreno Busta’s slide down the rankings has continued as he has struggled with a shoulder injury. He made headlines for all the wrong reasons at the Australian Open when he threw his racquet bag on the court in protest against an umpiring decision at a vital stage of his fourth-round, five-set defeat to Kei Nishikori, and did not play from early February until late April due to the shoulder, missing the chance to defend his Miami semifinal points. He made the third round of the French Open, but retired there too, and was defeated in the semifinals of Antalya by Lorenzo Sonego.

Post-Wimbledon clay gave Carreno Busta the opportunity to briefly turn around his rankings decline when he reached the semifinals in Hamburg, defeating Fabio Fognini on the way, and he has made a positive start to the summer hard-court swing with four match wins under his belt in Cincinnati, beating Marius Copil and J. J. Wolf in qualifying before ousting Gilles Simon and then Isner to reach the last 16.

Beating Isner was a quality victory even if the American is struggling at the moment, and it certainly looks as if Carreno Busta is getting back to something like his best. This is the third straight year that he’s made the round of 16 in Cincinnati, and he was a quarterfinalist in 2018 – but to match that result, he’ll have to beat Djokovic, and that looks extremely unlikely.

Carreno Busta got just one game from Djokovic in their first meeting, and while he did push the Serb to a third set in their second encounter, he did not come close to a win and is only 4-25 against top players. A great mover around the court, his game is too much like a sub-standard version of Djokovic’s own to pose a major threat if the Serb is playing reasonably well and it should be the defending champion who comes through to the Cincinnati Masters quarterfinals for the ninth time.

Djokovic vs Carreno Busta tennis is live from Cincinnati on Thursday at 7pm local/12am BST

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Djokovic vs Carreno Busta tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Djokovic continues Cincinnati Masters title defense

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