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Djokovic pushes past Simon to advance at Cincinnati Masters

CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Novak Djokovic pulled his championship tennis back together after last week's early exit, beating Gilles Simon 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the third round of the ATP-WTA Cincinnati Masters here Tuesday.

The world number one was ambushed at the same stage in Toronto a week ago by eventual champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

But Djokovic made sure he did not commit the same error twice as he began a bid to win the only Masters 1000 title missing from his resume. But he was tested by his French opponent, who took Tuesday's contest into a final set.

“He's not going to give you too many unforced errors and free points, so I knew that,” Djokovic said. “But I managed to get a win in the end, and that's what matters.”

Djokovic went down a service break in the opening set but got it back and added another to take the early lead. In the second set, he went up a break for 2-1 but could not stay the course. A break for 4-3 in the third kept him on the road to recovery.

He ended on his second match point after more than two hours.

Four-time Cincinnati finalist Djokovic improved his record over France's Simon to 8-1. He is playing the pre-U.S. Open Masters tournament for the tenth time.

In the only other second-round match played, Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka was broken while serving for victory but pulled out a win over German Benjamin Becker 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).

Toronto winner Tsonga crashed back down to earth in his opening match, losing 6-1, 6-4 to Russian Mikhail Youzhny.

The 29-year-old 12th seed found himself back on court 48 hours after beating Roger Federer to win the title in Toronto, the second at the Masters 1000 level of his career.

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Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, serves to Gilles Simon, of France, at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament in Mason, Ohio, Tuesday, Aug. 12. (AP)

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