David Goffin's withdrawal due to injury afforded Roger Federer a walkover route into his eighth Cincinnati Masters final, with Novak Djokovic awaiting him in OH on Sunday. The third-ranked Stephens couldn't overcome 37 unforced errors that helped Mertens get only her second career win over a Top 5 player.
A week of rain delays and double-duty days wore on players, many of whom wound up playing twice in a day.
Enraged by his poor play at the outset, Djokovic slammed his racket on the court and rallied for a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Milos Raonic on Friday night to reach the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open, the only ATP Masters event he has never won.
The Swiss, seeking his eighth title in OH, saved all five break points he faced against the German and moves on to a third-round matchup with Argentine Leonardo Mayer.
Federer immediately appeared keen to get off court as quickly as possible ahead of the quarter-finals as he put Mayer's serve under pressure.
Only a couple of hours later, Djokovic stopped Milos Raonic 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, improving his career record to a ideal 9-0 against the Canadian. They are number one and number two in the world.
The final set came down to just a couple of crucial points.
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Federer has won all seven of the finals he has appeared in at the ATP Masters 1000 event in OH, and is on course to triumph for the first time as a 37-year-old, having come from behind to beat Wawrinka 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 after two hours and 19 minutes. Cincinnati remains the only one of the nine Masters 1000 events that the Serb star hasn't won.
"I had to keep it cool, she gets lot of balls back", Keys said.
The Argentine showed great character and gave far less away on serve to force a second-set tie-break, but the 2015 champion - competing in Cincinnati for the first time since lifting the title - had too much quality in the clutch moments and advanced. Fourth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro beat Hyeon Chung 6-2, 6-3, finally completing the second round in late afternoon.
"Of course, I'll watch, from my bed or bath", he said.
Known as more of a clay-court player, Bertens has reached a hard-court final for the first time, spending more time getting accustomed to the different style of play. "I'm really happy I can go through this, and tonight I'll have another match".
"In the beginning, sometimes OK, you take them and you're happier to have an easier day at work but not when the crowd's packed like this and looking for an epic match".