Novak Djokovic’s comeback from injury is now complete as he fulfilled a long time ambition and in the process made history by defeating the world No.2 to claim the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, the one Masters 1000 title which has eluded him throughout his career, despite having reached the final on five previous occasions.
He is now the first player to have won all nine Master 1000 titles since the series came into being back in 1990.
This is a dream come true. I finally won Cincinnati after six finals, some against the greatest ever Roger. Novak Djokovic
It was also satisfying that he beat Roger Federer to establish that record, one of the players who had prevented him from achieving that goal in previous years and who was already a seven-time winner of the title.
“I played five finals (here) before, and most of those finals I lost to this great man, Roger … thank you for letting me win here once in Cincinnati,” Djokovic joked.
But he then added: “This is a dream come true. I finally won Cincinnati after six finals, some against the greatest ever, Roger.”
For Federer, there was disappointment as he goes into the US Open without having won one of the warm-up events leading up to the last major of the season.
As he explained: “It was just awful. But it’s okay. But, look, I don’t even want to look for reasons why it happened. 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.”
As regards the Masters Golden Slam he pointed out that it was an ambition his generation couldn’t aspire to.
“It’s just something that the previous generation couldn’t even aim for, because we had the Super 9s, okay, but it wasn’t like a goal of anybody, because you had so many experts on all different surfaces. And then all of a sudden, things slow down. Everybody starts to play from the baseline. Only then you could win all four almost or you could only win all the Masters 1000s.”
“But I think as generations will go by, more and more players will probably get a chance of doing something like this, but he is the very first one to do it. So it’s a great credit to him. Yeah, I think it’s an amazing accomplishment.”
Federer’s 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 also 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.
Djokovic claimed the opening set in 37 minutes and came back from an early break in the second to overhaul his long-time rival in what was their 46th clash with the Serb now leading Federer 24-22 having won their last three encounters though the pair had not played since the 2016 Australian Open semi-finals.
Wimbledon champion Djokovic claimed his Masters record on his first match point and now heads to the US Open as a title favourite after a string of sub-par seasons and an elbow injury which required surgery.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s been a couple of tough months for me with an injury and then winning Wimbledon and Cincinnati,” Djokovic said.