After reaching the title clash in 2008, Novak Djokovic was again among the players to beat in Cincinnati a year later. The Serb faced Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on his way to the title, wanting to play at his best and defeat his biggest rivals.
Novak overcame the first hurdle in style after beating the Spaniard 6-1 6-4 in the semi-final in one hour and 32 minutes. Djokovic defeated Nadal for the fifth time in 19 meetings and advanced to his 10th Masters 1000 final, setting the title clash against Federer.
Playing only the second tournament after Roland Garros and with tendinitis in both knees, Nadal eliminated three rivals to enter the semifinals. However, he didn’t stand a chance against Djokovic, as the Serb prevailed on serve and return from start to finish.
Novak hit 21 winners and converted 15 more points than Rafa, defending the only break point he faced and stealing his opponent’s serve three times to earn a place in the final. The Serb built the crucial advantage at the shortest distance to four shots and dominated the Spaniard to end the losing streak against one of his greatest rivals.
Novak broke in the fourth game of the match with a backhand crosscourt winner and fired one from the right of him a few minutes later to take a 4-1 lead. Nadal hit a backhand in the sixth game, and Djokovic closed out the first game with a service winner shortly after.
Rafa saved three break chances early in the second set and closed it out with an ace to break his fall. The Spaniard conceded a backhand in game five to earn a break and put the Serb 3-2 ahead.
Ljubo on Roger Federer
After reviewing his coaching before the final of the Australian Open 2017 against Rafael Nadal, the final won by Roger Federer in five sets after a now legendary match, the former Swiss coach, Ivan Ljubicic, in a long interview given to our Spanish colleagues from Puntodebreak, also talked about the famous Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic in 2019.
“Sometimes people come to me asking if I think Roger would have retired if he had won Wimbledon in 2019 against Djokovic and I always say, ‘no, why?’ It’s not like he’s looking for a reason to retire.
He wanted to play. How long would he have played? I would say until he feels competitive. I don’t think being 25th in the world would have been a fun thing for him, but he never looked for a reason to retire.”