August 18, 2014
Big-serving Serena Williams claimed her first Cincinnati title, while Roger Federer won the tournament he almost didn’t play.
Williams returned to form despite a shaky start against Ana Ivanovic. The American went 1-3 down in the first and could have fallen even further behind. That was the last time Serena was seriously threatened, because her booming serve soon roared to the rescue. By the time the comeback was complete, Williams had fired down twelve aces in a frighteningly accurate barrage.
‘Only twelve?’ joked a shell-shocked Ivanovic, who admitted to feeling embarrassed when she couldn’t put her racquet on a return. ‘It felt like way more.’ Williams made just 14 unforced errors in a 6-4, 6-1 victory that filled her with self-belief just before her home Slam. ‘Definitely my best performance of the summer,’ she said. ‘Hopefully not the last.’
Meanwhile Federer clinched a 16th consecutive success over David Ferrer, though his 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 win was something of a rollercoaster.
The popular Swiss seemed to be cruising to victory after a comfortable first set. But Ferrer stormed back and almost “bagled” the favourite in the second. For a while it seemed that Federer had finally run out of energy after a busy build-up to the US Open. In reality he wasn’t the one starting to feel his age, though. The Spaniard’s push for a first ever victory over his fellow “thirty-something” lost momentum. A deft drop-shot broke Ferrer in the deciding set, as Federer took a 3-1 lead. Roger’s decision to challenge the lack of a line call on match point finally sealed it.
‘The third set, he served unbelievable and I was a little tired,’ admitted Ferrer. ‘I can never beat Roger, he’s too much for me.’ This was Federer’s sixth Cincinnati title, 80th tour title and 22nd Masters Series crown. Even his four children might finally be impressed by this one. Roger’s recent rewards for coming second at tournaments such as Wimbledon and Toronto have received mixed reviews within the Federer family.
He had the American crowd laughing when he said of his kids: ‘I think they’re happy I got a big trophy because I’ve been bringing home some smaller ones from finals. I told them “it’s still a trophy” but I’m happy I got the big one.’ Later he revealed that he hesitated before going into action in Cincinnati, fearing the onset of fatigue so close to a Grand Slam event. ‘I was considering not playing on Monday,’ he confessed.
How glad the great man was that he felt fresh enough to take part. Now he will go into the US Open confident that he can still rival the likes of Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Watch this space…