Djokovic eyes history in Cincinnati fi­nal

Ser­ena re­cov­ers to reach another Cincinnati WTA fi­nal

The China Post - - SPORTS -

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will be aim­ing for a slice of ATP history on Sun­day when he takes on six-time cham­pion Roger Fed­erer in the ATP Cincinnati Mas­ters fi­nal.

Djokovic bat­tled back to beat Ukrainian qual­i­fier Alexandr Dol­go­polov 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 on Satur­day to set up his 41st ca­reer meet­ing with Fed­erer — who dis­patched last week’s Mon­treal win­ner Andy Mur­ray 6-4, 7-6 (8/6).

Djokovic, seek­ing a 20th ATP Mas­ters 1000 ti­tle, will try to claim his first tro­phy on the hard courts of Cincinnati af­ter los­ing in the fi­nal four times.

With a win he’d be­come the first player to tri­umph in all nine of the ATP’s elite Mas­ters 1000 events — a feat that Fed­erer said would be “quite un­be­liev­able.”

“I gave my­self another chance to fight for the tro­phy,” Djokovic said. “That was the goal and that was the wish com­ing here in Cincinnati.

“Ob­vi­ously the last cou­ple of years it was al­ways in the back of my mind, the po­ten­tial history mak­ing, and ob­vi­ously that mo­ti­vates me even more.

“Hav­ing that in back of my mind helped me to go through matches like one to­day.”

But Djokovic said he’d have to play bet­ter than he did against 66th-ranked Dol­go­polov.

Although Djokovic gained the up­per hand in the sec­ond set with a break for a 5-3 lead, the Ukrainian promptly broke back to push the set to a tiebreak in which Dol­go­polov led 3-0 and 5-4 be­fore Djokovic man­aged to level the match at a set apiece.

From there, Djokovic took con­trol, break­ing Dol­go­polov twice for a 4- 1 lead in the third en route to the vic­tory in two hours and 20 min­utes.

The out­come mir­rored their most re­cent meet­ing, in which Djokovic de­feated Dol­go­polov 6-7 (3/7), 7-5, 6-0 in the round of 16 at the Mi­ami Mas­ters.

Along the way Djokovic re­ceived on-court treat­ment early in the sec­ond set for tight­ness in his ab­domen. But the Ser­bian star said the trou­ble was noth­ing to worry about with the U.S. Open ap­proach­ing in nine days.

“It’s OK, noth­ing ma­jor,” Djokovic said.

‘Ul­ti­mate test’

Djokovic and Fed­erer are even with 20 wins apiece in 40 prior ca­reer meet­ings.

Djokovic has won the last three, in­clud­ing last month’s Wim­ble­don fi­nal.

“I’m ex­cited to be in another fi­nal,” said Fed­erer, who has beaten Djokovic in two Cincinnati fi­nals. “It’s the ul­ti­mate test to play Novak, he’s had a great run the last few years.”

Fed­erer’s win over Mur­ray was his fifth straight over the Scot.

The 34-year-old Swiss earned the open­ing set with a break in the third game but had to duel in a tiebreaker to claim another straight­sets win and se­cure his spot in the fi­nal on his sec­ond match point with­out the loss of serve this week.

“I got off to a good start in the first set,” said Fed­erer, whose im­pres­sive Cincinnati record stands at 41-8. “It was my first day match so I had to be fo­cused to the con­di­tions.

“In the sec­ond there were not that many chances. I fo­cused on serve. It was great to hold against a qual­ity player like Andy. I tried to mix up the sec­ond serve and to­day it worked pretty well.

Win­ning the semi­fi­nal also opens the door for Fed­erer to steal back the ATP No. 2 rank­ing which Mur­ray claimed this week af­ter his vic­tory in Mon­treal.

With a sev­enth

ti­tle he would World No. 1 Ser­ena Wil­liams came from a break down in the open­ing set to pro­duce a patchy 6-4, 6-3 win Satur­day over Elina Svi­tolina to reach the WTA fi­nal in Cincinnati.

The top seed was far from ef­fi­cient in the semi­fi­nal, ap­pear­ing to lose her way on some shots, be­fore squeez­ing through for a chance at a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Cincinnati ti­tle.

In Sun­day’s fi­nal she will face Ro­ma­nian third seed Simona Halep, who crushed for­mer cham­pion Je­lena Jankovic of Ser­bia 6-1, 6-2.

Halep will also re­turn to No. 2 in the world be­hind Wil­liams as a re­sult of her win and will take the sec­ond seed­ing at the U.S. Open start­ing in nine days.

The 33-year-old Wil­liams — who will be try­ing to se­cure a rare cal­en­dar Grand Slam when the U.S. Open be­gins on Aug. 31 — blamed her stut­ter­ing form on an el­bow in­jury she has had for sev­eral months.

“I haven’t served much since the French Open be­cause I’ve had an el­bow prob­lem,” Wil­liams said. “Even be­fore the French I didn’t serve much un­til the day be­fore the tour­na­ment started.

“I’ve been deal­ing with that for a long time. I’ll get through re­gard­less.

“I don’t know how I turned the match around. I got off to a su­per slow start. But I man­aged to start go­ing for my shots. I just told my­self to dig deep.”

Wil­liams won her 47th match re­turn to No. 2 in time to gain the sec­ond seed­ing at the U.S. Open, which be­gins on Aug. 31.

“I won’t lose sleep over it,” Mur- against just two defeats this sea­son.

“I just need to serve with aplomb, and I’m not do­ing that right now.”

The 21-time Grand Slam sin­gles cham­pion im­proved to 20-4 at Cincinnati, the last ma­jor event prior to the start of the year’s fi­nal Grand Slam at Flush­ing Mead­ows.

She will be play­ing her third Cin- ray said of the rank­ing. “Ob­vi­ously I would rather be ranked No. 2 go­ing (into the U.S. Open).”

Mur­ray said the de­feat car­ried cin­nati fi­nal in a row and aim­ing for her fifth ti­tle this sea­son. She ham­mered nine aces but had eight dou­ble faults.

Halep has beaten Wil­liams twice in the last two sea­sons, in­clud­ing an In­dian Wells semi­fi­nal in March. She goes into the fi­nal with­out pres­sure but deal­ing with some pain in her left leg.

“I have the pain but

it doesn’t one pos­i­tive — the chance to get an ex­tra days’ rest.

“I need that,” he said. “I played a lot of ten­nis the last cou­ple of mat­ter when I play well. I only have one more match here and then I can re­cover for the Open,” said Halep.

“Ser­ena is the best player and I have no pres­sure. Reach­ing No. 2 doesn’t mat­ter to me much.

“I just want to win the match. I have con­fi­dence to win, maybe that’s why I played my best ten­nis tonight.” weeks, and ob­vi­ously a lot of the other guys that have been play­ing a lot didn’t par­tic­i­pate in the Davis Cup this year ei­ther.”

AP

Ser­ena Wil­liams, of the United States, re­acts dur­ing a semi­fi­nal match against Elina Svi­tolina, of Ukraine, at the Western & South­ern Open ten­nis tour­na­ment, in Ma­son, Ohio, Satur­day, Aug. 22.

AP

Andy Mur­ray, of the United King­dom, tosses the ball to serve to Roger Fed­erer, of Switzer­land, dur­ing a semi­fi­nal match at the Western & South­ern Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Ma­son, Ohio, Satur­day, Aug. 22.

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