Novak Djokovic struggled with an illness last night after a 3-hour marathon win over Roberto Bautista Agut. Today in the final of the Cincinnati Masters played in New York, Djokovic looked sluggish early but then turned it on to deny Milos Raonic of his Masters title with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The win gives Djokovic a 35th career Masters title which equals Rafael Nadal’s record haul. And his second Cincinnati crown gives him a second Grandmaster sweep.
“I would like to thank my team for hanging in there. Tough match yesterday, three hours,” Djokovic said on court. “I would like to take this opportunity to say hello to all the Cincinnati fans and tennis fans around the world. We miss you guys. It feels quite strange to be in these conditions and circumstances, but we all hope for a better tomorrow and you are one of the biggest reasons why we play professional tennis, so hopefully we can see you very, very soon.”
Djokovic improves to 23-0 on the year. He’s now won his last 26 matches dating back to the ATP finals.
“I am trying to make the most of my career, trying to use this time when I feel that I am physically, mentally, emotionally, game-wise at peak and playing some of the best tennis that I have ever played,” Djokovic said. “Going on an unbeaten run so far this year obviously brings even more confidence each match.”
The Serb, though, made quite a turnaround in less than 24 hours to recover from his Friday issues and be able to hoist his 80th title.
“In the past three, four days, I struggled a little bit with my physical condition, but I managed to pull this one through,” Djokovic said on court. “It was a very close encounter all the way through the last shot. It was anybody’s game.”
Early on it looked like the Canadian would finally have his day. Raonic, who was 0-10 against Djokovic and 0-3 in Masters finals, was fresh and in form. Blasting serves and forehands with Djokovic having little in the way of an answer, winning just three total points on his second serve.
In the second, Djokovic got a read on the Raonic serve and that added pressure created cracks in the Canadian’s game. Raonic’s forehand let him down as Djokovic began finding the range with his serve, holding comfortably.
In the third, Raonic stopped the momentum going up a break. But perhaps tasting his biggest career title, Raonic couldn’t sustain it as the Serb took six of the last eight games to win it.
“The first set obviously he was playing great, I made some double faults, handed two breaks to him,” Djokovic said. “It’s always hard playing Milos. He has one of the best serves in the game, puts so much pressure on your service games. He steps in, he’s going more for his shots from the back of the court.”
Raonic had some humor despite the setback.
“What is that, 23-0? Honestly if I start the year off 3-0, I’m pretty happy,” Raonic told Djokovic during ceremony.
Djokovic will play Monday night at the US Open, Raonic on Tuesday.
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