Looking to end a run of four runner-up finishes on the Cincinnati hardcourt, world number one Djokovic needed just 50 minutes to hand Belgian qualifier David Goffin a 6-2 6-0 tennis lesson before handing over centre court to Federer, 32, and Tommy Haas, 35, the two oldest players remaining in the draw.
It was an entertaining but far from vintage performance from the two veterans as a sluggish Federer, the five-time defending champion in Cincinnati, dropped the opening set to the German before fighting back for a 1-6 7-5 6-3 win.
World number two Murray, a two-time Cincinnati champion, looked right at home again on the Ohio hardcourts as the Scot steamrolled Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-2 6-2 in 69 minutes.
It was a day of sharp contrasting fortunes on centre court as the world's top three players all saw action.
While Federer pulled off a great escape, world number four David Ferrer of Spain was not so fortunate, falling 6-2 6-4 to Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov.
"I just held on hoping for Tommy's level to go down a bit or mine to go up a bit," said Federer, battling to find some form ahead of the US Open after struggling with back sproblems.


Latest News from Sports News Desk