Roger Federer defeats Novak Djokovic for seventh Cincinnati title

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Federer clinched his seventh Cincinnati title with a straight sets victory over Djokovic.

Roger Federer defeated world number one Novak Djokovic 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 on Sunday to win his seventh ATP Cincinnati Masters title.

Federer denied Djokovic a first Cincinnati crown, leaving it the only one of the elite Masters titles the Serb has never won.

With the win, world number three Federer will regain the number two ranking that Andy Murray grabbed with his triumph in Montreal last week – just in time to make Federer the second seed at the US Open starting on August 31.

Sunday’s defeat means the Serbian world number ne has now failed in finals at both of his tune-up events for final Grand Slam of the year, which starts on August 31.

Federer gave himself three match points with his seventh ace of the contest and converted on the first to the cheers of a partisan crowd.

The 34-year-old Swiss – who wasn’t broken all week – nudged ahead of Djokovic 21-20 in their head-to-head series as he avenged last month’s defeat by the Serb in the Wimbledon final.

The pair were playing for the Cincinnati title for a third time.

Djokovic, trying to become the first man to win all nine of the elite Masters 1000 titles, instead endured his fifth finals defeat at Cincinnati – the lone Masters missing from his resume.

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Roger Federer joins Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati quarter-finals

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Roger Federer returns a shot to Kevin Anderson during day six of the Cincinnati Masters.

Roger Federer engineered a 6-1, 6-1 rout in less than an hour, outclassing the big-serving Kevin Anderson to join Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals of the ATP and WTA Cincinnati Masters on Thursday.

Switzerland's Federer swept the first set in 21 minutes and began the second set with a break of South African Anderson.

While the second seed was able to make it all look easy, it was a slog for an exhausted Andy Murray as the third-seeded Montreal title-winner needed a shade under three hours to put down Grigor Dimitrov 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5.

Dimitrov led a set and two breaks before Murray hauled the second set back. The Bulgarian then owned the third 5-2 but could not close it out despite getting to match point.

Murray gathered the last of his reserves to take the win, his 26th at the tournament which he won in 2008 and 2011.

Djokovic also survived a scare in the pursuit of a first career Cincinnati title, with the top seed holding off David Goffin 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

Djokovic, aiming to become the first man to win all eight Masters 1000 events, nearly found himself on the sidelines as his 13th-seeded Belgian opponent won the second set and went two breaks up in the decider.

But the experienced Serb pulled back from the brink, levelling at 3-3 and ran out the winner after a tense one and three-quarter hours.

Djokovic stayed alive despite seven double-faults and five breaks of his serve.

Djokovic will face Stan Wawrinka in the next round after the Swiss fifth seed prevailed over Ivo Karlovic to win 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5).

Sixth seed Tomas Berdych crushed Spain's Tommy Robredo 6-0, 6-1.

Frenchman Richard Gasquet knocked out US open winner Marin Cilic, the seventh seed, on the cusp of a Grand Slam title defense, leaving the Croatian hurting after a 7-5, 6-3 loss.

Former champion Rafael Nadal, seeded eighth, lost to Spanish compatriot Feliciano Lopez 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) in another night-time marathon.

Women's holder Serena Williams dispatched Karin Knapp 6-0, 6-2, while sixth seed Ana Ivanovic overhauled Sloane Stephens 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Williams won't get her wish in the next round as she plays former world No. 1 Ivanovic who is having a strong season. It will be a re-run of their final from 12 months ago.

French Open finalist Lucie Safarova advanced to the quarter-finals when injured opponent Belinda Bencic quit trailing 6-2. Jelena Jankovic punished eighth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka had to stop with leg pain after being taped at the end of the first set, handing a 1-6, 3-0 win to Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

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A day with Peter Wessels: One-time conqueror of Roger Federer

Matt Jones 20/08/2015
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UAE-based: Wessels.

When you meet Peter Wessels, he’s a bundle of effervescent joy, energetic, friendly and with a beaming smile. He was an exceptional talent as a junior, reaching the boys’ singles semi-finals at both the US Open in 1995 and Wimbledon in 1996. He also captured the Roland Garros junior doubles title with fellow Dutchman Raemon Sluiter in 1995.

On the men’s circuit, Wessels peaked at No 72 in the world rankings in 2005, five years after he captured his first and only title on the ATP Tour, on the grass courts of the tournament in Newport.

The 37-year-old retired in 2009 with a 1-1 head-to-head record against the great Roger Federer and with career earnings of $928,863 (Dh3.4m).

Now living in the UAE, he plays amateur tournaments and coaches at PSS Tennis Academy. Wessels spoke to Sport360 and entertained on a number of topics.

Who was your tennis/sporting idol growing up?

I was always a big fan of Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg. I was an attacking player myself just like them and I loved watching them on TV. I never really liked watching tennis on TV unless it was Becker or Edberg.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

Without a doubt my parents. They introduced me to the game and they played for hours with me when I was young. I was lucky I didn’t have typical ‘tennis parents’.

My parents never pushed me or interfered with what my coach had to say. They always asked me at the end of each year if I still liked it and if I wanted to continue. They told me that if I would rather play football or spend time with friends, they would still be okay with it as long as I was happy. But I never wanted anything else than playing tennis. The only thing they asked from me was that I would give it my very best at all times and that I would behave on the court.

What advice would you give to youngsters taking up the sport and dreaming of becoming pro?

I think in all aspects of life, if you want to be successful, whether it’s in sports or business you have to be 100 percent committed. As a tennis player, the job doesn’t end when you finish your practise session. You have to be able to live like a professional all day long and that is something most people can’t do.

Idols: Becker and Edberg.

It is really about how badly you want it yourself because no matter how much your coach, parents or friends want you to become a pro, if you are not 100 per cent committed, it most likely won’t happen for you. But maybe above all, make sure you still like what you’re doing. You need to love the game.

Who was the best player you ever played against and why?

I played Federer at the US Open in 2000. I played him the year before and I beat him but I could see he had made so much progress since the time I beat him and I knew he was going to be a top player. I couldn’t predict he would be the greatest ever, but you could see his potential.

Apart from Federer, I think of Andre Agassi. I played him at Wimbledon on centre court which was an amazing experience. I played well and lost in three close sets. He was known as the best returner in the world so I couldn’t be playing serve-and-volley all the time. On the other hand, he was incredibly strong from the baseline too so it was difficult to choose a strategy against him.

As a player what was your favourite tournament to play at and why?

I loved playing the grand slams because that’s the highest platform there is in tennis. It doesn’t get better that that, you see and play against the best players in the world, everything is so well organised and you really get the feeling you are part of something special.

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I enjoyed playing the Australian Open for a couple of reasons; I loved playing on hardcourt and I like warm weather. Aussies are pretty laid back just like Dutch people are in general. They are sport minded and very friendly in my experience. I like Wimbledon a lot too because of its history and the whole vibe over there.

Who do you enjoy watching on the circuit among the current players?

If I had to name a few players that I like watching, I’d pick Federer, Tsonga, Wawrinka and Dimitrov. I also like watching women’s tennis. I believe the level has gone up a lot in the past few years. I don’t have any favourite women players but previously it was Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters.

You’re playing a doubles match. Who do you pick to play with and against?

I would play doubles with Patrick Rafter and against Federer and (Goran) Ivanisevic. And if we win that match we would play Becker and Edberg.

You live in Dubai these days. What are you up to?

Back in 2010, Sigi Meeuws – owner of PSS Tennis Academies – asked me if I was interested in working for him in the UAE. I just retired as a professional player and I was ready for a new challenge. I worked for PSS for about four years and then I took on a coaching job with two players from Dubai and travelled with them for a year.

I’m back with PSS now and starting September 1, I will be working at the Emirates Palace Tennis Academy in Abu Dhabi, managed by PSS.

We are setting up a new tennis academy at the Emirates Palace hotel and we will provide tennis training for all levels and ages. We will also organise ladies mornings, after-school tennis activities, corporate tennis clinics and there are possibilities for professional players and national teams to come and train at our venue.

So it really is a unique set-up at a beautiful location and I am excited to get started to try and get more people in the UAE involved in tennis.

What is the funniest/craziest/most embarrassing thing that happened to you while on tour?

I’ll go with a tournament somewhere in France where I decided to pull a prank on my friend who I was playing doubles with. We were on the road for a couple of weeks, we were tired, didn’t play well and it was one of those rare occasions in my career where I didn’t mind if we’d win or lose because if we would lose, we could finally go home.

So we lost that match and after I told my friend not to worry too much because I had made a good deal with our opponents and that I had sold the match for some money. This was just around the time when the ATP started to do lots of investigations into sports betting and bribery so my friend went nuts at me to start with.

So then during our drive back to Holland I pretended that the ATP called me, that they were furious and that we would be suspended for six months. My friend’s face turned all white and green, he saw his whole career flashing by, thinking it was all over for him but I still didn’t tell him it was all a joke.

It was only after he stopped the car and was vomiting on the side of the road that I had to tell him. He laughs about it now but at the time he couldn’t appreciate the joke at all and was furious at me. 

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