MASON, Ohio (AP) — Novak Djokovic gets another chance at the one that keeps getting away.
Four times, the world's No. 1 player has reached the final of the Western & Southern Open. He's finished as the runner-up all four times in the only Masters tournament where he has never gotten to raise the winner's trophy.
He's the top seed in the tournament that opened on Sunday with a pair of men's matches. And he's the one to watch this week when it comes to tennis history as well. A title in Cincinnati would make him the first player to win all nine ATP Masters events.
This isn't just another week for Djokovic.
"That always adds more importance to this tournament for me," he said Sunday after a two-hour practice. "I do care to win this title a lot. Four times I've lost in the finals and I haven't been really close in those finals.
"Playing four times in the finals is a great result. Hopefully I can go a step farther this time."
Defending champion Rafael Nadal injured his right wrist and is out of the tournament, leaving one less obstacle to Djokovic's quest. Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have won eight of the last nine titles in Cincinnati.
Lleyton Hewitt fought off eight of 12 break points and rallied to beat Jurgen Melzer 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in an opening match that lasted 2 hours, 6 minutes. Sam Querrey finished off Alejandro Falla 6-3, 6-1 in only 46 minutes.
"Everything was kind of working for me tonight," Querrey said.
Djokovic's focus on Sunday was getting accustomed to the fast courts and the humid conditions. Last July, he beat Federer in five sets to win his second Wimbledon title, but has struggled in the transition to hard courts.
In Toronto last week, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga upset Djokovic on Thursday and knocked out Murray a day later. Djokovic said the courts in Cincinnati don't seem quite as fast as those in Toronto, which should help him.
"I know what I need to do to get myself in the right shape, and hopefully I'll do it," he said. "It's easier said than done."