SHARE
COPY LINK

ROGER FEDERER

Tennis: Djokovic downs Federer to win Cincinnati crown

Novak Djokovic ended a career-long jinx as he completed a matched set of Masters 1000 titles Sunday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Roger Federer in the Cincinnati final.

Tennis: Djokovic downs Federer to win Cincinnati crown
Novak Djokovic (left) now leads Federer 24-22 head to head. Photo: AFP

Novak Djokovic ended a career-long jinx as he completed a matched set of Masters 1000 titles Sunday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Roger Federer in the Cincinnati final.

The former world number one became the first man to win all nine of the ATP's elite Masters 1000 events since the ATP was formed in 1990.

Federer, a seven-time champion in Cincinnati, lost a final in the hardcourt US Open tuneup for the first time.

In addition, his streak of 100 straight unbroken service games in Cincy was ended by Djokovic in the seventh game of the first set.

The 37-year-old Swiss had been aiming for a 99th career trophy, but was unable to get over the line due in part to four double-faults at the most inopportune of times.

“Thanks for letting me win here once,” Djokovic joked to Federer at the trophy presentation. “I didn't play my best tennis today, but I managed.

“It's been a roller-coaster week,” he added after players dealt for days with lengthy rain interruptions.

Djokovic claimed the opening set in 37 minutes and came back from an early break in the second to overhaul his longtime rival as they played for the 46th time.

The Serb now leads Federer 24-22 and has won their last three encounters.

The pair had not played since the 2016 Australian Open semi-finals more than two and a half years ago.

Wimbledon champion Djokovic claimed his Masters record on his first match point and now heads to the US Open as a title favourite after several seasons of dismal form and an elbow injury which required surgical intervention.

“Congratulations to Novak,” Federer said, “not just for today for  his entire career.

“The rain made things tough this week, so it's great to see the sun today.

“This is one of my favourite events and I hope to be back next year.”

Federer started the match with three aces in the opening game, then added a pair of love games for a 3-2 lead.

But it began to unravel as the Swiss double-faulted  to yield a break point, dropping serve as Djokovic moved ahead 4-3.

Djokovic took advantage for a 5-3 lead and closed out the set after 37 minutes.

Federer broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set but gave the break back immediately as he double faulted to give Djokovic a break point which the Serb promptly converted.

Djokovic broke again to lead 4-3, and after Federer held to close the gap to 4-5 Djokovic ended the afternoon in the next game on his first match point.

ROGER FEDERER

Is this the end of the road for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer?

Roger Federer is talking optimistically about returning to his "highest level" after knee surgery, but does tennis have to start adjusting to a future without the Swiss star?

Is this the end of the road for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer?
Is it the end of the line for Roger? Photo: Martin BUREAU / AFP

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced on Wednesday that he would be sidelined until 2021 after his second operation in a matter of months.

Federer remains upbeat, tweeting: “I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 percent ready to play at my highest level.”

In some ways 2020 is a good season to miss after the coronavirus ravaged the tennis schedule. Writing Federer off in the past has proved dangerous.

He returned from a six-month injury lay-off to claim the Australian Open in 2017, winning his eighth Wimbledon crown later that year.

But he will be 40 in 2021 and is now heading into uncharted territory.

Despite his groaning trophy cabinet, there are two factors that will motivate Federer to keep going — the risk of losing his grip on the men's Grand Slam title record and a missing Olympics singles gold medal.

Rafael Nadal has 19 majors, just one shy of Federer's mark and Djokovic has 17.

Spain's Nadal will be fancied to draw level with Federer at the French Open, rescheduled for September, while few would bet against Djokovic winning in New York weeks earlier.

In April, Federer said he was “devastated” when Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II. Last year he fell agonisingly short at the All England Club, failing to convert two championship points on his own serve against Djokovic.

The Wimbledon grass probably remains his best chance of adding to his Grand Slam collection — he has not won the US Open since 2008 and his only title at Roland Garros came in 2009.

Even though Federer has slipped from the very pinnacle of the game, he is still a major threat to Nadal and Djokovic.

'Golden' ambitions

Last year, the world number four had a 53-10 win-loss record and he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January in his only tournament this year.

Federer, who is still six ATP titles short of Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 109, has one glaring omission from his CV — the Olympic title.

The Swiss won doubles gold in Beijing in 2008 with compatriot Stan Wawrinka but lost in the singles final to Andy Murray in London four years later.

The postponed Tokyo Games will almost certainly be Federer's last opportunity to complete a career “golden” Grand Slam — he will turn 40 on the day of the closing ceremony next year.

Tennis will feel the loss of the elegant Federer keenly when he walks off the court for the last time.

Djokovic and Nadal have been the dominant forces in recent years but the Swiss remains the biggest draw and last month topped Forbes' list of the world's highest-earning athletes.

His last appearance on court was in front of nearly 52,000 fans — touted by organisers as a world record for tennis — at a charity match against Nadal in Cape Town in February.

Federer is nearly always the crowd favourite wherever he plays and has proved a perfect ambassador for the sport since he won his first Grand Slam title in 2003.

He certainly expects to be back and competitive next year.

“I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season,” he tweeted.

The avalanche of support from his adoring fans showed they would miss him too, but they will have to get used to a time when he is gone for good.

SHOW COMMENTS