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Cincinnati Masters: Can Novak break his duck?

Novak Djokovic has never won the Cincinnati Masters, finishing runner up on four previous occasions.

Story highlights

  • Both ATP and WTA players back in action this week at Cincinnati Masters
  • Reigning men's champ Rafa Nadal not competing because of wrist injury
  • Novak Djokovic looking for first Cincinnati win after finishing runner up four times
  • Women's defending champion Victoria Azarenka starts title defense on Tuesday

Time waits for no man nor the players of the ATP and WTA tours as tennis' top men and women cross the border from Canada and head to Cincinnati, Ohio to compete in their second Masters tournament in consecutive weeks.

This year will see a new champion crowned in the men's tournament with Rafael Nadal forced to sit out the defense of his title after injuring his wrist at the end of last month.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will hope that he can succeed the Spaniard after finishing runner up four times at the Masters 1000 event in previous years.

"I care about winning this title a lot," Djokovic said, the ATPTour website reported.

"I lost four times in the finals. I haven't been really close in those finals either. I haven't been able to perform my best in this tournament when it was needed.

"But I did have a lot of good matches in Cincinnati. Hopefully I can go one step further this time, but I haven't been playing as well as I wanted in Toronto," said Djokovic, who was beaten by France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round last week.

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    "So these couple of days I've put a lot of hours in on the practice court to upgrade my game and get my level of performance where it needs to be in order to have a chance to go far in the tournament."

    The Serb -- the top seed -- will have a testing opener against the winner of the match between Bernard Tomic of Canada and France's Gilles Simon who play Monday.

    The top eight seeds all have a first-round bye as lower-ranked players all vie for a second round spot.

    Germany's Benjamin Becker was an early straight-sets winner over Ivo Karlovic from Croatia.

    The German's 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 win sets up a second-round match with Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka.

    Becker's compatriot, Philipp Kohlschreiber is also safely through to the second round after a three-set win (6-3 4-6 6-4) over France's Jeremy Chardy.

    The world No. 24 is rewarded with a second round tie against sixth seed David Ferrer from Spain.

    His compatriot, Tommy Robredo was also a winner on Monday, beating American Jack Sock 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 to book a meeting with another U.S. player, Sam Querrey.

    After defeating Roger Federer to win the second Masters title of his career last Sunday, Tsonga (seeded 12th) starts his campaign on Tuesday against Russia's Mikhail Youzhny.

    Azarenka defends 2013 crown

    In the women's draw, Sam Stosur will face Serena Williams in the second round for the second week running if the Australian can overcome Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. on Monday evening.

    Williams brushed Stosur aside last week in Montreal before suffering a surprise defeat to her sister Venus in the semis.

    Venus gets her Cincinnati campaign underway with a first round match against Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic while her conqueror in Sunday's final, Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska has a bye and will play either Japan's Kurumi Nara or Swiss player Romina Oprandi.

    Reigning champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus will face the Czech Republic's Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in her opening match on Tuesday.

    Maria Sharapova, winner at Cincinnati in 2011, will play Madison Keys in her opening match following the American's straight-set win (6-2 6-4) over France's Alize Cornet early on Monday.

    Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens was also a first-round winner, beating Slovenia's Polona Hercog 6-3 6-2 to set up a second-round match against French Open finalist Simona Halep of Romania.

    Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic will face Elina Svitolina in the second round after the Ukrainian's straight sets win over America's Lauren Davis.

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