Novak Djokovic had to rally against a qualifier to get another shot at a title he’s never won. Next in his way: Roger Federer, who has more Cincinnati trophies than anyone else.
Djokovic took a medical timeout in the second set, got a little help in the tiebreaker, and pulled away to a 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov on Saturday to reach the finals of the Western & Southern Open.
He’ll face Federer, who has never lost a Cincinnati title match.
By contrast, the world’s top-ranked player has never won the tournament — the only one of the nine ATP Masters to elude him. Djokovic is 0-4 career in the finals at Cincinnati, where he has never even won a set. He needs that one elusive title to become the first player to win all nine ATP Masters during his career.
“I gave myself another chance to fight for the trophy,” Djokovic said. “That was the goal and that was the wish coming here in Cincinnati. Obviously last couple of years, it was always in the back of my mind, the potential history making, and obviously that motivates me even more.
“Having that in back of my mind helped me to go through matches like the one today.”
Federer used his steady serve to beat Andy Murray, 6-4, 7-6 (6), in the other semifinal. The defending champion is trying for an unprecedented seventh title in Cincinnati.
It’s his first tournament since he beat Murray in straight sets at Wimbledon before losing to Djokovic in the finals. And he’s looking very fresh, especially with his serve.
He hasn’t been broken during his four matches, a total of 29 service games. He lost only 14 points off his serve while beating Murray for the fifth time in a row.