Roger Federer jutted his right index finger toward the summer-blue sky to celebrate his latest Cincinnati title. He would have needed both hands to count all of them.
Federer remained perfect in Cincinnati finals, winning an unprecedented seventh championship on Sunday while denying Novak Djokovic the one title that always eludes him. Federer never faced a break point during a 7-6 (1), 6-3 victory at the Western & Southern Open.
The Swiss star is 7-0 in Cincinnati finals, which always brings out the best in him. He loves the small-town atmosphere in suburban Cincinnati heading into the big-city pressure of the U.S. Open.
“I don’t know how many years I can come back, but I’ll try my best to be here many more years to come,” Federer said.
By contrast, the world’s top-ranked player is 0-5 in Cincinnati championship matches, never winning so much as one set. Djokovic covets the title — the only one he needs to become the first to win all nine of the current ATP Masters events.
“The fifth time I’ve been in the title (match) and never won this title, so I guess I have to wait for Roger to retire,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been coming back each year wanting it more.”
Federer feels for him.
“I really hope you can win here someday,” Federer told him on court during the trophy presentations. “He deserves it. C’mon, so close.”
In addition to Cincinnati, Federer has won seven titles at Dubai and Wimbledon, eight at Halle.
It was Federer’s first tournament since he lost to Djokovic in the finals at Wimbledon. With the win, he’ll be seeded second behind Djokovic at the U.S. Open.
Federer spent the last few weeks practicing in Switzerland, and he arrived in Cincinnati hoping to get his game smoothed out for the U.S. Open. His serve is right where he needs it. During his five matches in Cincinnati, Federer wasn’t broken during 40 service games.
He faced only three break points all week, none on Sunday during his 11 service games and the tiebreaker.
Djokovic fought off four break points early in the first set, and Federer never gave up more than two points a game off his serve as it went to a tiebreaker. Djokovic became animated as he dumped three shots into the net during the tiebreaker, helping Federer take control. At that point, it was clear where this one was head.
Another Federer win. Another Djokovic disappointment.
Federer broke him and went up 3-0 in the second set. Djokovic fought off three breaks points during an 18-point game that pulled him within 4-2, but Federer held serve and closed it out when Djokovic returned a serve long. Then he raised his racket in his left hand and his right index finger in celebration.
One of seven.