(Reuters) - Top seed Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka each survived a scare at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals where they will clash in a rematch of the French Open final.
Djokovic dropped the opening three games of the final set against 13th-seeded Belgian David Goffin but roared back for a 6-2 2-6 6-3 win in Cincinnati while French Open winner Wawrinka beat Croatia's Ivo Karlovic 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 7-6(5).
The Serbian world number one ran into trouble when his 24-year-old opponent broke in the first game of the second set, which resulted in a frustrated Djokovic destroying his racket with three smashes against the hardcourt.
Goffin went on to win eight of the next 10 games to put himself in position for a massive upset but Djokovic quickly found his groove in time to prevail.
"Credit to him for playing some solid, consistent tennis, always making me play an extra shot," Djokovic said. "Luckily for me, I managed to bounce back, dig myself out of this hole I was in."
Djokovic and Swiss Wawrinka will now meet for the 22nd time on Friday, but it will be their first clash since Wawrinka's triumph at Roland Garros in June.
Wawrinka was also forced to dig deep in his round of 16 clash where big-serving Karlovic fired 35 aces to his opponent's eight. But Karlovic's biggest weapon faltered when he needed it most as he double faulted while serving to save match point.
"It's going to be the first time we've met (since) the French Open final," Djokovic said about his upcoming clash with Wawrinka. "Both of us, we are still not playing our best, but hopefully we can rise to the occasion and have a good match."
Sixth seed Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic breezed by unseeded Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-0 6-1. He will meet Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarter-finals after the Ukraine qualifier dispatched Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-3 3-6 6-4.
Defending champion Roger Federer, third seed Andy Murray and eight seed Rafa Nadal are among the competitors in the final four matches in the round of 16 later on Thursday.
(Reporting by Tim Wharnsby in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue)