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By Steve Keating
CINCINNATI (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray set out on another collision course after the world's top two players strolled into the third round of the Western and Southern Open on Wednesday.
Djokovic was all business on an unusually chilly afternoon on the outskirts of Cincinnati easing past Argentine Juan Monaco 7-5 6-2 while Murray got his North American hardcourt campaign back on track with a 6-2 6-3 dissection of Mikhail Youzhny.
"Between 4-1 and 4-5 (first set), four quite bad games for me," Djokovic told reporters. "I stopped moving my legs. I didn't really go for my shots.
"I let him kind of dictate the play and wait for his mistake, which was not the right tactics.
"But all in all, I expected a little bit of a challenge for myself especially because he's a good player but also because it's the first match here in Cincinnati, which has different conditions from what we played in Montreal."
Twice before, in 2008 and 2011, world number one Djokovic and number two Murray have met in the Cincinnati final with the Scot winning on both occasions.
But this year the big Serb, who has four runner-up finishes on the Ohio hardcourts, will be determined to be the last man standing and become the first player to complete what the ATP Tour has dubbed the 'Career Golden Masters' and win all nine World Tour Masters titles.
Murray and Djokovic have been making a habit of meeting when something big is on the line.
They clashed in the finals of three of the last four grand slams with Djokovic coming out on top in Australia and Murray the winner at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon.
Murray, who had a slow start to the hardcourt season with a third round loss in Montreal last week, arrived in Cincinnati eager to get in matches ahead of the August 26-Sept 9 U.S. Open, where he will arrive as a defending grand slam champion for the first time.
The Cincinnati hardcourts proved a perfect spot to build some momentum and Youzhny the perfect opponent as the Wimbledon champion needed just 70 minutes to run his record to 4-0 against the overmatched Russian.
"I thought he made more mistakes than I'd expected," said Murray. "But he played yesterday and very different conditions today because it was cool on the court.
"I just wanted to try to play a high percentage match because I think it's important for me to try to get a few matches this week, if I can.
"I did what I wanted to do and got through the match."
In other matches, seventh seed Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, tamed Russian Nikolay Davydenko 7-5 7-5 while top ranked American John Isner beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet, the eighth seed, 7-6 (6) 6-2.
Canada's Milos Raonic, who moved into the top 10 for the first time this week, continued his good form disposing of Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic 6-4 7-6 (4).
(Editing by Frank Pingue)