August 23, 2015
What more can you say about a sporting legend who just keeps on doing it? Roger Federer provided a master-class for the world number one and shocked everyone who expected a closer battle in Cincinnati.
It was Federer’s 87th career title, his 24th Masters 1000 title, his seventh in Cincinnati, and richly deserved in front of his family.
How does he find such sparkle at 34? A fizzing serve helps. Djokovic only won thirteen points on the Federer serve all match. And there was something else. Roger is enjoying his tennis like never before.
On the day Usain Bolt claimed 100 metre gold in the world athletics championships, we were reminded that there is another man going about his business on the sporting stage in a manner that will probably never be repeated.
Federer said: ‘I’m unbelievably happy, I played so well throughout and another great performance in the final against Novak – you have to do that. I served really well, it’s nice to win another tournament.’
Is this the most fun he has ever had? ‘It’s different, I really loved the beginning of my career, playing against players I’d seen in TV. Then the dominant phase, becoming world number one. Now this phase. My twin girls are here, I’m enjoying it as much as I ever have, probably even more so because I can appreciate the game so much today.
‘Getting back to number two is not very important to me to be honest. I haven’t been in a US Open final since 2009 so that’s my first priority.’
Djokovic made the American crowd laugh when he said: ‘Congratulations to Roger, this is the fifth time I’ve been in the final here and never won it so I guess I’ll just have to wait for Roger to retire.’
Federer had them laughing even more when he replied: ‘I hope you can win it one day too. Come on, he’s such a great player.’
But then Federer added something that Novak wouldn’t necessarily have welcomed: ‘I’m planning to come back here for many years to come.’ No plans to retire in the foreseeable future then!
Federer crushed Djokovic in the first-set tie-break 7-1. It was an extraordinary demonstration of poise, nerve and sheer brilliance from Federer when it mattered. Aggressive Federer had fired 20 winners to Novak’s nine in the first set and had dominated at the net. The world number one had struggled to settle as Roger mixed up his game to create a delicious sporting recipe.
Could Djokovic launch a comeback, as he had done on seven previous occasions against Federer? Not this time. The Serb looked increasingly out of sorts and double-faulted twice in succession to throw away his first service game of the second set. It was starting to look easy for Federer at 3-0. And that is something no other opponent has been able to experience in recent times, even those who have beaten him.
Djokovic stopped the rot briefly to take the fourth game but Roger only had to hold his own serve to cruise to victory. Federer had the chance to go 5-1 ahead but squandered break points to remind us all that he is human after all.
Still, the match was never in doubt once Federer got over a seventh-game wobble when he missed a couple of simple volleys. As usual, he had the composure to forgive himself quickly and close out 6-3.
So there it was. Another big victory, so soon after defeating Andy Murray. Yet another title.
And what of Djokovic? He has hit the heights so often that when he fails to do so you wonder if there is something wrong. He looks jaded, in need of rest. Can he come out fighting in time for the US Open?
This impressive Federer win means Roger will be second seed and the pair could meet again in the final at Flushing Meadows. Few would bet against it. And how we would all enjoy it once more.