August 17, 2014
Once more we are witnessing poetry in motion, sporting execution of irresistible quality. Roger Federer swept aside the powerful Milos Raonic to triumph 6-2, 6-3 in just 67 minutes of scintillating tennis – a masterclass in effortless technique.
Now only David Ferrer stands between Federer and more history in a sport he has graced for so long. Victory against Ferrer, who defeated Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-2 in the other Cincinnati semi-final, will bring a fresh milestone for the Swiss superstar. Federer is on the verge of his 80th tour-level title, a feat only previously achieved by Jimmy Connors (109) and Ivan Lendl (94).
No one can say Roger doesn’t deserve it, after reaching his eighth final this year alone. ‘I’m playing much better than last year, I can move freely again,’ Federer declared. ‘Now I’m playing the right way.’
And you just have to marvel at the hunger and determination of a man who could have been forgiven for calling it a day last year, when it seemed he would never again hit the heights that had already made him a legend. It would have been so easy for Roger to throw in the towel, particularly with his increased family demands. Indeed he had to field countless questions about possible retirement.
What he has achieved this year somehow makes him even greater than the man he already was, because he has been forced to dig deep and summon something beyond the God-given talent that propelled him to greatness in the first place. Two sweet Federer backhands broke Raonic to go 5-3 in the decisive second set. And although the Canadian survived a match point, he soon had to bow to the inevitable.
‘I served poorly,’ he admitted, ‘and that’s not going to get it done.’ The fact that Raonic served at just 43 per cent said much about the pressure Federer placed upon him throughout their semi-final with some superb returns. And only the most optimistic Ferrer fans will believe that the Spaniard can spoil Roger’s party now. Federer has won all fifteen of their top-level encounters so far, and the favourite has rediscovered that supreme confidence and sublime, flowing movement that make him one the of the great sights in world sport.
In a far less impressive winning display, Serena Williams defeated Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 as she goes in search of her first Cincinnati title. Now the error-strewn Williams will face the gritty Ana Ivanovic, who toughed it out against Maria Sharapova to triumph 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 in their semi-final. It may simply boil down to who wants it more in the final.
As for Federer, it feels as though the entire world wants him to taste fresh success. No one can say he doesn’t deserve it.
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