Roger Federer has captured his seventh title at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati and along with that sealed the second seeding at U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York. It also denied the World number one ranked Novak Djokovic from being the only player in the game to win all nine active Super Nine events. It was Federer’s 24th Masters series title which ties him with Djokovic. The Spaniard Rafael Nadal still leads with 27 titles.
Federer, who lost three consective finals to Djokovic in 2015 at Indian Wells, Rome and at Wimbledon had 4 break point opportunities in each set, but converted on only one occasion in the second game of the second set. He had chances in the third and fifth game but Djokovic saved them all as the first set was decided on a tie break.
Federer won the first set tie-break 7-1, and Djokovic playing in his tenth match in two weeks seemed to run out of gas as Federer stormed ahead in the second set and at one point, had chances for a double break to go up 5-1. Djokovic then took him to deuce in the next game but Federer who faced only three break points in the entire week, held his serve and then at 5-3 served out the match at love to record a 7-6(1), 6-3 win. He is now 45-7 for the season and Djokovic who also lost last week to Andy Murray fell to 56-5 for the season.
The Swiss missed the Rogers Cup in Montreal, the week before and it has proved to be a smart gamble. However he has been quiet dominating this tournament and won in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 and now in 2015. It was his fifth title of the year having previously won ATP 250 events in Brisbane and Istanbul, and ATP 500 titles in Dubai and Halle.
In what is the second longest rivalry in the game Federer broke the deadlock and is now 21-20 in career head to head against the Serb who graciously joked at the presentation ceremony that after the Swiss retires he might finally register a win in Cincinnati. In five finals in Cincinnati, Djokovic has not won a set, but considering his hard court prowess, one thinks he will get into the winners’ circle sometime in the near future.
Federer, on his part is missing two of the Masters 1000 as he has never won on the clay courts of Monte Carlo and Rome. The longest rivalry in the game also involves Djokovic who trails 21-23 to the Spaniard Rafael Nadal. It was also the first time in his career that Federer beat the world’s number One and Two ranked players (Djokovic and Murray) in the same tournament.
With Federer and Murray winning the two biggest hard court lead-up tournaments to the US Open, the stage is set for a tantalizing end to the Slam season. Djokovic who has been absolutely dominant in the majors this year making the finals of all three slams and Federer and Murray will be trying to use their hard earned momentum to convert it into the big prize in New York City in two weeks’ time.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]