ATP CINCINNATI MEN’S FINAL PREVIEW
To say that the top seed and World No.1 Novak Djokovic wasn’t at his best during his semi-finals against an inspired Alexandr Dolgopolov would be a huge understatement.
After raining down unforced errors and losing the first set tamely, Djokovic, down a mini-break in the tie-break, brought out nerves of steel to steal the second set. He followed that up by cruising past a frustrated Dolgopolov 6-2 in the third.
The expression “it isn’t over till the last ball is played” has rarely rung truer for a tennis player.
Though he did make the final, Djokovic has hardly been convincing this week. At one point, in the round-of 16, he looked in huge trouble while being down 3-0 in the deciding set.
The man on the other side of the net, in sharp contrast, has been at his breathtaking best.
While Roberto Bautista Agut failed to trouble him, he absolutely schooled Kevin Anderson with a thumping 6-1 6-1 victory. Nadal-conqueror Feliciano Lopez failed to escape similar treatment.
Newly promoted World No.2 Andy Murray was expected to provide a sterner test. While Murray was a genuinely tougher opponent, the vast gulf in the time spend on court clearly showed. Murray looked slightly sluggish throughout the first set while Federer cruised. Federer, failing to keep up the scintillating form, found himself in slight trouble during the second set tie-break. Eventually though, Murray was no match for an on-song Federer.
Djokovic and Federer have met each other 40 times. Fittingly, the head to head reads 20 each. This, as most of their last few matches have been, is no ordinary final. If he wins, Djokovic becomes the only player in history to have won every single Masters 1000 tournaments in the tennis calendar.
Cincinnati has been a happy hunting ground for Federer, stamped by the fact that he has triumphed an unprecedented six times. Djokovic seemed to suffer from an abdominal problem mid-match in his semifinal and has sometimes looked listless and forlorn. He can ill afford such lapses of concentration on Sunday if he wants to complete his Career Golden Masters.
PREDICTION: Roger Federer
Novak Djokovic is the slight favourite heading into the finals at 4/5. Roger Federer is tipped to win at 1/1.