Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic Meet In The Cincinnati Final; Who’s The Pick?
by Sean Randall | August 19th, 2018, 1:33 am

The dream final is set, and no, it’s not Marin Cilic against David Goffin. It’s better. A lot better! It’s the resumption of the Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic rivalry which the Serb leads by the slightest of margins, 23-22.

After a horrendous start the season, Djokovic has seen a resurgence this summer winning Wimbledon and then this week coming through four straight 3-set matches including today’s 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Cilic, the guy who beat him in the Queen’s final.

Boy, what an ugly match. Every time I watch Cilic I can’t help but wonder how in the world he won that US Open title. The guy has so much game, size, length and speed, but come crunch time he consistently gets tight and goes off the rails. And that’s what happened today.

Djokovic played OK but Cilic just falls apart at the wrong times and Djokovic took advantage coming up with the shots when it mattered the most, breaking Cilic to go up 5-3 and then serving it out.

“Yesterday at 4-3 in the third, today at 4-3 in the third, both times I made crucial breaks,” said Djokovic. “But, I wasn’t just closing my eyes and going for the shots. I was trying to tactically play smart and strategically play the certain shots that will put me in a better position than my opponent.

“When you play guys like Cilic and Raonic, you have to be lucky to anticipate their serve, try to block it, try to put it in play, and again, develop a point in a way which will allow you to win it.

“Today I made a passing shot down the line, which was quite awesome, and I was lucky to hit the line. That’s what happens. I mean, that one point, one shot, decided a winner of the match today. That’s how close it was. It was similar to yesterday’s match, so not much has really separated us.”

Following a super-busy Friday and all the rain, I guess both guys were a little mentally fried. And the heat maybe hit the guys for the first time all week.

“It was a big battle, definitely tough conditions: very hot, very humid, very different than all the matches that I have played here this week,” said Cilic. “It wasn’t easy to adjust in that from the beginning of the match. But just an amazing performance by him. In those critical points he lifted his level in those moments, and that earned him the victory.

“I feel with my tennis that it’s on a good level. These two weeks have helped me to position myself well to prepare really well. I had tough matches here this week and last week.”

In the evening, Federer showed a little of his age and post-Friday fatigue looking a little sluggish early against a hot-serving David Goffin who beat the Swiss in the semifinals of the ATP Finals in November. But Federer loosened up his serve as the first set went on, then rolled in the breaker to take the opener.

Goffin received some treatment on his right shoulder at the end of the first, then minutes later out of the blue the two were shaking hands as Goffin retired down 7-6(3), 1-1 serving 40-30.

It came as a shock to just about everyone watching.

“It didn’t make sense to continue,” said Goffin. “I was serving 100 miles per hour first serve and I felt my arm and my shoulder. After I lost the first set, I had to serve two more sets to win the match, so it didn’t make sense to continue.

“But overall I was feeling great. I was moving well. I was feeling my forehand really well. So on the baseline I was feeling good. It was a different kind of serve because I was serving differently because of the speed of my ball, and it would have been tough to win.”

So a much-needed quick night for Federer who seemed to be getting into gear as the match went on.

“So I was just happy how I was able to lift my game up throughout the set, and then also in the breaker, I played a good breaker, so I was actually very happy.”

And that means the final we’ve been waiting for after Rafael Nadal pulled it is set.

Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic
Djokovic leads 23-22 and he’s had the better of Federer in recent meetings, but they haven’t played since the Australian Open in 2016 and most importantly, in the Cincinnati final Federer is 3-0 against the Serb. Three wins and all in straight sets!

Plus, Federer is 7-0 in the Cincinnati final while Djokovic is 0-5. And to me, those final records mean more than their recent head-to-head which is pretty even anyway.

“I think what’s nice about this is that it’s fresh,” Federer said of the long gap in playing Djokovic. “It’s not like we have played in the last few weeks and everybody knows what to expect.”

Federer also loves the Cincinnati court. It plays quick, plays hot and with his serve and attacking mindset, it’s no wonder he’s by far the title leader there and hasn’t dropped serve since the 3-set 2014 final against David Ferrer.

“I just think in general here in Cincinnati you’ve got to win the big points,” said Federer. “There are not that many opportunities, especially if you protect your serve well. Everything goes very quickly. You can’t play the rallies like you normally would like to. You’re playing very reactive on the return and active on your own serve.”

So the finals record and the court speed give the advantage to Federer. I also give the Swiss the edge in level of play. Djokovic just hasn’t looked in tune this week. He’s winning, but like he did today, winning ugly.

Grigor Dimitrov had a set and a break lead and Milos Raonic also had Djokovic on the ropes. But credit to Novak, he came through. I just think if Federer gets such a chance, he’ll finish the deal winning those big points, and I think that’s what happens tomorrow.

That said, Djokovic is younger, he should be the better player – he just won Wimbledon – and he’s got the hunger and the motivation of trying to win his first and make history. He should win this match!

“I mean, it’s a final for me and the sixth time that I’ll try to win the title,” said Djokovic. “Obviously this time I’m hoping that I can get my hands on the trophy. I will give my best. History is also on the line and I’m aware of that and that motivates me even more.”

And we saw Roger lose matches to Kevin Anderson, Thanasi Kokkinakis and even the Juan Martin Del Potro loss at Indian Wells was a surprise. Also Borna Coric on the grass.

And this week, let’s be honest Federer’s had a great draw, hardly been affected by the rain (as far as mid-match delays and waiting) while Djokovic beat two former Cincinnati champions and a 3-time Masters finalist in Raonic.

But, listening to Federer at the ESPN desk after the match tonight, I just think he doesn’t want to lose to Novak and he especially doesn’t want to be the guy to give Novak a first Cincinnati title making him the first player in history to have all nine Masters. So I’m going 7-0 > 0-5.
The Pick: Federer in two

Like I said, this court sets up better for Roger. He’s also played better this week, granted against lesser competition. But Djokovic has looked ragged and to beat Roger he’ll have to play his best tennis of the week. And perhaps that will happen.

ESPN2 will have the men’s final live at 4pm ET after the women’s final between Simona Halep and Kiki Bertens at 2pm.

You Might Like:
Happy 32nd Birthday To Roger Federer Who’s Already Practicing In Cincinnati
Cincinnati Men’s Draw Preview: Who’s Playing? Andy Murray? Rafael Nadal? Kei Nishikori?
Rafael Nadal v Kevin Anderson In The US Open Final, Who’s The Pick?
Poll: Who’s Your Early 2016 Australian Open Favorite? Can Anyone Beat Novak Djokovic?
Novak Djokovic v Lucas Pouille In Australian Open SF #2, Who’s The Pick?

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

39 Comments for Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic Meet In The Cincinnati Final; Who’s The Pick?

AndyMira Says:

I will go with Nole in 3…Yeah..he played crap not only this week..but at/ since Wimby[xcept in the semis against Rafa]…But,i’m pretty sure he will raise his level to 200% tonight…That’s what he did against Rafa at Wimby…

And Fed,imo he’s not mentally tough like last year anymore…He’s a little bit fragile this year…There’s a possibility that Fed will collapse due to Nole’s resilience or any other element that didn’t go his way…But,i also will not be surprised if Fed win…He’s a great champion after all!…Whoever win,they certainly deserve it!

Good luck guys!!…C’mon!Bring it on!!

Mystic - Willow Says:

Andi Mira Giles left a link about Rafa on the other thread, about it been a decade since he first became world number 1 if your interested ….

AndyMira Says:

Oh!….Thanks Al!

Truth Says:

Djokovic beat Marin Cilic in the semi-finals but refused to rule out the possibility of facing Goffin in the final in his post-match press conference because the Belgian had still to play his last-four clash with Federer – in which he retired injured one set down.

“That’s really kind from him,” Goffin said of Djokovic’s action.
“Of course Roger is always the favourite in almost every match of the year, but yeah, we just fighting and it’s fine, good to see that people respect me.”

Lmao Too bad you aren’t too respectful, Coffin, I mean Goffin.

Truth Says:

“When they asked me in Indian Wells and Miami to judge Novak, I was, like, ‘It’s not real Novak’, then,” Federer said.
“He was just coming back, and he came back too soon.

“Same at the Australian Open.

“That one wasn’t quite the 100 per cent Novak we know he can be.

“I don’t look at that kind of match like what could he be struggling with, because if you give him time, he’ll fix that.”

“A lot has happened since [our last meeting] with injuries, both of us have been fighting, and we both came back strong again,” Federer added.
“So I think that’s what’s nice about this time around with Novak.
“There’s a lot riding again on the match. It’s great to refresh our rivalry that we’ve had going on for so many years now.

“It’s so nice to see him back having won Wimbledon and now back in another final for him in Cincy.

“I think it’s going to be very exciting.”


chofer Says:

Djoko is entirely a different animal when facing Fedal, reglardless of outcomes.

Laser focused like in no other match, Sean Randall should have been aware of that by now.

Joshua Says:

Nole lost serve after going 40-15. What the heck!

AndyMira Says:

Yeah Chofer!….Veryyyy agree with u there!…

AndyMira Says:

Crowd cheering Nole DF…THAT WAS A BIG MISTAKE!….They thinks it will help Roger with that but No!…It will only make Nole want to win even more!…

Madmax Says:

Come on Roger! But it’s really looking like Nole’s to lose right now.

A tough call.

Madmax Says:

Nole is certainly proving to be quite the returner.

Madmax Says:

Federer. Time to get your mojo swinging freely!

j-kath Says:

Come on Nole …start your time again.

Madmax Says:

So I’m going 7-0 > 0-5.
The Pick: Federer in two

What were you thinking Sean?

Sean, you forget so easily how Nole is feeling. Just a short time ago, he won a slam, he won Wimbledon and that really gives him extra mileage to prove something. You forgot that point.

Madmax Says:

Close J-Kath. Close. Fed. he’s too nervous against Nole this match.

Madmax Says:

Well done for holding Fed.

This is gonna have to be a tie break to come back from the brink.

Go for it Fed.

Madmax Says:

Pressure is on.

Van Persie Says:

Master of the 9 Masters, Novak Djokovic :)

Madmax Says:

Yeah…welcome back Nole, welcome back. So happy for you that you are back. A great ride since Wimbledon and well deserved.

Shame on you Sean. Can’t believe you didn’t see this coming. Did you honestly think that Novak was going to roll over?

Federer, we salute you. Another final. Another tournament played, but not to be. Bounce back soon. We just love ya champ. The Best.

AndyMira Says:

Ohohohohohho!!….Congrats Nole & his loyal fans for his win!!…I thought he will win in 3!..But no! 2!!…Oh God!!…

The HISTORY HE MADE!!!….URGH!!…Certainly one of the Great GOATS!!…

Hehehe….Sean’s WRONGGGG!!!

j-kath Says:

Well done Nole – hope for all the wounded.

Madmax: Yes, Fed seems like he’s been tentative most of this tournament. Wonder why?

jatin Says:

Its a privilege to see Fed playing at 37, I don’t feel sad after Fed’s losses anymore. He has nothing left to prove. Its been a good tournament overall. Hope to see him healty in USO. Maybe the slower court there would give him more time in his return games.

Congratulations Novak for completing the masters set. Played great today. Favourite for the USO as well. Great Comeback !

Okiegal Says:

Novak’s back, Jack……. twice. Congrats on his new stat. My commies to all the avid Fed fans. On to the
Big Apple!

Okiegal Says:

Novak’s back, Jack……. twice. Congrats on his new stat. My commies to all the avid Fed fans. On to the
Big Apple!

Colin Says:

I don’t particularly like Nole – he can be irritating – but I found myself rooting for him as I watched this match, because he plays similarly to Andy, except of course he’s more likely to come to the net than the Scot.

It seemed that Roger came up short on account of nerves rather than technical mistakes.

Daniel Says:

Djoko and Cilil will have the same amount of ranking points tomorrow: 4.445 pts. I wonder who will be #6 and #7. Even so, huge rise and Top #8 in USO, with a 50% chance of landing in Fedal QF side.

j-kath Says:

Daniel: You end the contest with such cheer with possibility of Novak and Fed. on same side of draw – its worth a sigh and a sad wee smile.

Colin: At this stage I rather wish Andy was even more like Novak – at least health-wise.

Amit Says:

Fed played BS ros throughout cincy.. plus he won mostly sets with 7-6 scores.. that told me he was far from his best. Djokovic too was far from his best, but not as far as Fed was from his. Djoko at least showed some quality in flashes! Deservingly won Concy!! Congratulations to all Djokovicians! 👍👍👍
Fed isnt winning USO.. Djokovic looks like winning to me, he has best chance of the great-3 ! Djokovic is AMAZING!!! 👏👏👏

Amit Says:

Djokovic has the bèst resume of all already! All the masters, the Nole slam, the WTFs! What does he lack!! Truly Fuggin AMAZIN!!! 👌👌👌

Amit Says:

Goddamn Amazing Player Novak Djokovic!!!👏👏👏

Amit Says:

Insane Achievements!!!

Amit Says:

Djokovic always had the spark of an amur tiger in his eyes, it seemed to me! Now I know why!! He is the ultimate winner in tennis! Too good!!
2 mins thought for my Federer though! Fed is immortal, just like a dracula! 😉 Its never easy to supercede dracula! But tiger nole is making good progress at least! 🐯

Daniel Says:

Also, #1 will be on the line in USO.

Tomorrow railings:
– Nadal 10.040 pts
– Federer 7.080 pts

Dropping USO 17′ pts:
– Nadal 8.040 pts
– Federer 6.720 pts

Meaning for Federer to has any chance of regaining #1 he has to win USO to reach 8.720 pts.

If Nadal reaches semis (8.760 pts) he retains #1 ranking regardless if Federer wins it.

FedExpress Says:

Daniel, Fed would do good if he reaches the 2nd week.

Colin Says:

j-Kath, I’m beginning to get worried about Andy. Am I right in thinking he’ll have to go through qualifying for the USO?
If he doesn’t regain full health by the end of this season, I very much fear he’ll be finished.

If he could find a suitable partner, he might extend his career by playing doubles, where he wouldn’t have to cover so much ground. I shall be watching the final involving Jamie and Soares. Jamie was the first to win a major; will he outlast his kid brother?

Madmax Says:

jatin Says:
Its a privilege to see Fed playing at 37, I don’t feel sad after Fed’s losses anymore. He has nothing left to prove. Its been a good tournament overall. Hope to see him healty in USO. Maybe the slower court there would give him more time in his return games.

Congratulations Novak for completing the masters set. Played great today. Favourite for the USO as well. Great Comeback !

August 19th, 2018 at 6:22 pm

Absolutely Jatin. I feel there is only a small chance for Fed at USO. it is Novak’s I feel.

J-Kath, Andy has done so well – give it time. He won’t lose the talent, just the routine, which he will get back in two shakes once his body has healed. He will return stronger for this.

j-kath Says:

Colin: If Andy has to qualify it will be “a first”. Delpo, Serena, Nole, Stan – didn’t have to qualify and neither did Andy at Toronto.

I’d give him first 6 months of 2019 – and then the picture will be clearer. I’ve seen Andy and Jamie play doubles at Davis Cup and Andy was the better player in that he could pull the magic out when needed. Yes, doubles players can perform well for longer (Bryan bros. etc.) –

j-kath Says:

Madmax: Just saw your post – think I answered via Colin. And while I somewhat agree with you – Andy was not born physically lucky….can’t remember what his impediment was – but possibly it’s partially to blame for Andy’s gait.

Madmax Says:

J-Kath, reember this:

Murray broke back immediately for a 6-5 lead following a controversial call when McDonald’s racket was adjudged to have crossed the plane of the net at 30-30. The former British No 1 then made no mistake in serving out the match.

This was not so long ago J-Kath. Have some faith.

Washington. He fought like a tiger. You have to give him credit for this. Yes of course you want him to start winning everything in his path, but that’s not his trajectory, unfortunately for Murray fans, but this should give you bags of hope. He needs to have matches like these to test his fitness level. I fully expect him to get back to the top within the next 12 months. I really do.

Top story: Spain Sweeps Canada For Sixth Davis Cup Title