Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon title was no flash in the pan.
The Serb showed he is back full-bore on Sunday, routing Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
The win was also a huge milestone for Djokovic who has now won every Masters-level tournament on the ATP calendar. It was five years ago that the Serb had won eight of the nine Masters, but he finally made the elusive Cincinnati title his in a second-half of 2018 after injuries, elbow surgery and shake-ups in his personal team.
He now leads Federer 24-22 in their career meetings after a third straight win.
“Obviously it’s a very special moment to stand here for the first time with the winning trophy here in Cincinnati,” said Djokovic, who will rise to No. 6 on the ATP rankings. “The hard times I went through, it’s been a rollercoaster ride in my career with injury, taking time off and having a surgery earlier this year. This seems a bit unreal to be back at this level.”
Federer for his part seemed to press too much offensively, during the brief encounter committing 39 unforced errors.
“Congratulations Novak on writing history today,” Federer said. “It’s an amazing effort not just today but your whole career to get to this point. It’s an amazing achievement. You should be very proud. Well done.”
Djokovic lost six of his first nine matches after returning from elbow surgery in March. Since the start of the grasscourt season he is now 19-2.
In the first set Djokovic broke for a 4-3 lead, his fitness in evidence after coming off four straight three-set matches, closing it out 6-4. In the second set Federer looked to make it a match, breaking for a 2-0 lead, but poor serving and struggling in just about every department gave the lead back.
“It was definitely not my best day on the return [of serve],” Federer said. “That’s it. It was just awful. But it’s okay. He served well. But missing every second serve on the forehand side, I don’t know what that was about. I don’t even want to look for reasons why it happened. I just think it did. Novak totally deserved to win today. This was not good enough. It’s okay. Good week, but I’m happy it’s over and I need to rest. So it’s all good.”
Djokovic again broke for a 4-3 lead before closing it out.
It was the 31-year-old Serb’s 70th career title, while Federer fell to 7-1 in career Cincinnati finals.
Federer is still pursuing the 100-title mark in 2018, after Cincinnati dropping to 98-52.
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