Djokovic downs Raonic to reach semis

Novak Djokovic remained on course to win an elusive Cincinnati Masters title after beating Canada’s Milos Raonic to reach the semi-finals. 

The Wimbledon champion, who had earlier completed his weather-affected last-16 encounter against defending champion Grigor Dimitrov, defeated his big-serving opponent 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Djokovic came into the meeting with a perfect record from their previous eight meetings but was pushed hard by the former Grand Slam finalist.

Raonic was forced to save five break points in his opening service game before he broke Djokovic in the seventh game of the match.

A run of four successive games for Djokovic saw the Serbian gain the upper hand. Raonic responded well as he broke Djokovic in the third game of the second set before maintaining his focus behind his serve to a force a decider.

The third set saw both players trade breaks of serve until Djokovic raised his game to break once again before closing out the contest.

Djokovic will meet 2016 champion Marin Cilic in the semi-finals after the Croatian backed up his victory over Karen Khachanov earlier in the day with a win over Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta. Cilic triumphed 7-6, (9-7) 6-4.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer set up an all-Swiss quarter-final encounter against Stan Wawrinka with a dominant victory over Leonardo Mayer.

The world No 2 was the headline act of a busy schedule as the rain-hit Masters 1000 tournament was left with a backlog of last-16 matches to complete due to Thursday’s early suspension of play.

Federer defeated Mayer 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) in 72 minutes after the 37-year-old breezed through a one-sided first set in 23 minutes, winning five games on the bounce against the world No 50.

Mayer offered greater resistance in the second set forcing Federer into a tie-break and, despite surrendering a 5-1 advantage, the Swiss player avoided a deciding set by closing out the match with his 10th ace.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, preparing to bid for a sixth US Open title and first at Flushing Meadows in a decade, will next meet Wawrinka after his compatriot completed his held-over encounter against Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in straight-sets.