Novak Djokovic was attempting, this season, to complete two immense achievements, and both times, he came up short in the very last match.
At the French Open, the Serbian was attempting to complete his Career Grand Slam, only to see an imperial Stan Wawrinka deny him in the final. This Sunday, in Cincinnati, he was trying to become the first man to have won all of the Masters 1000 titles in singles (Daniel Nestor and the Bryan brothers have already achieved it in doubles).
This time, it is another Swiss who denied him in the final: Roger Federer.
At 34 years of age, perhaps Federer’s best years are behind him. However, when he is in good shape and well rested, as was the case in Cincinnati, there is very little to stop him, especially on a fast hard court. And in the final, the Swiss picked it up right where he left it after his supreme display of the semifinals against Andy Murray (whom he defeated in straight sets); as he has done all week, Federer gave no chance to his rival.
In fact, the second seed conceded only three break points in the course of the tournament, and all to the same player: Feliciano López, his quarter-finals rival.
It was no different in the final. The closest Djokovic has been to a break in the whole course of the match has been by bringing Federer at Deuce. But on such a fast surface, there is no stopping the Fed Express, especially when he is playing such aggressive tennis, coming deep into the court (sometimes even at the limit of the service box!) to return serve as he did all week, constantly on the attack, taking the net like Stefan Edberg in his best days, and with the same result as all through the tournament: Roger Federer won, without dropping a set.
This time, it was a 7-6(1), 6-3 victory, which made him claim the Cincinnati crown for the seventh time in seven finals, denying the world number one the only Masters 1000 title missing to his collection for the fifth time in five championship match attempts.
By winning the title, the Swiss reclaimed the number two spot in the rankings, which had been taken by Andy Murray last week following his Montreal crown, and will be seeded second at the U.S. Open, next week.
A sweet triumph for Federer, who celebrated it with his family:
Despite how many times he will have been buried, Roger Federer keeps on showing that his glory is far from being over. The “old man” still has a lot of tricks up his sleeve, and on his racquet.
(Photos: Getty Images)