Top-ranked Roger Federer won a record fifth Cincinnati title on Sunday, dominating second-ranked Novak Djokovic from the outset of a 6-0, 7-6 (9/7) win in the Western & Southern Open.
It was the first time in the tournament’s history that the top two played for the title. From the start, it was no match.
Federer improved to 5-0 in Cincinnati finals and tied Rafael Nadal for the most Masters titles with 21. Nadal dropped out of the tournament with a sore knee that has sidelined him indefinitely.
“A record break — always something special when that happens,” Federer said.
Djokovic won the Rogers Cup in Toronto the previous Sunday and was trying for his first win in Cincinnati, where he reached the final last year, but had to quit the title match against Andy Murray because of a sore shoulder. He seemed to be running on fumes in his second final in two weeks.
“I had a fantastic week in Toronto,” Djokovic said. “I came in here and didn’t really expect to get this far, get all the way to the title [match].”
By contrast, the 31-year-old Swiss star skipped the Rogers Cup, leaving him fresher on Sunday.
Federer and Djokovic rarely have such lopsided days together. The Swiss star won the first set in only 20 minutes, allowing Djokovic just 10 points. It was the first time in their 28 career matches that one of them took a set 6-0.
The Serb never fully recovered, snapping his streak of 15 straight wins on hard courts.
“I made a lot of double faults,” Djokovic said. “I was just trying to win that first game and get things moving.”
It was the seventh time that they had played for a tournament title. They split the previous six, with Federer winning the only Grand Slam final among them — the US Open in 2007.
Their rivalry took an interesting turn last year. Djokovic beat Federer in a five-set semi-final at the US Open, then beat him again in the semis at Rome and the French Open this year. Federer regained the upper hand by defeating the Serb — in the semi-finals again — at Wimbledon last month.
Both reached the final in a dominating style — neither lost their serve or a set during the week. Federer held his 38 service games, facing only three break points. Djokovic held serve for 31 games, overcoming 10 break points.
Federer put an end to that right away.
Helped by a double fault, Federer broke Djokovic’s serve to start the match. Then, helped by two more double faults, he broke him again to go up 3-0.
Djokovic went to his chair at the break and grabbed a different racket, hoping to change the flow of the match.
It made no difference.
Federer went back on court and served back-to-back aces that Djokovic could not touch with that new racket. It was domination all round — Djokovic had 10 unforced errors in the opening set, the same number of points he won. The Serb had four double faults, each one setting up a break point or ending a game.
The fans gave Djokovic a loud ovation when he held serve to open the second set. The Serb looked up at the crowd and smiled while sipping water.
Djokovic showed more energy in the second set, but never put much pressure on Federer, who did not face a break point. After a forehand sailed way long, Djokovic raised his arms, reared back and screamed. Now fully engaged in the match, he took the second set to a tiebreaker.
Djokovic survived one match point and got one point away from taking the tiebreaker. Federer ran off the last three points, closing it out with a forehand.