John Isner stuns Novak Djokovic to reach Cincinnati semis

MASON, Ohio — Novak Djokovic dumped another pressure-packed shot 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 Friday, beating the 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 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.

“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 Friday by beating qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Del Potro is in the semifinals for the second straight year.

Soon after Djokovic got knocked out, No. 2 Andy Murray was gone, too. He failed to convert a break point while losing 6-3, 6-4 to Tomas Berdych, who also beat him in the quarterfinals at Madrid.

They were relegated to the adjoining grandstand court. Both players struggled with the loud music, announcements and cheering from center court.

“I think this was my best moment of the game to handle this because I was struggling with the noise around the court and the distraction,” Berdych said. “You know, I handled it pretty well today.”

Murray? Not so much. At least it got the Wimbledon champion prepared for Flushing Meadows.

“I think in some ways it’s good preparation for the U.S. Open because normally the U.S. Open is fairly loud,” Murray said. “You know, a lot of movement and music, and they have the big screen and stuff. So, yeah, you get used to that playing here.”

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