After reaching the title clash in 2008, Novak Djokovic was among the players to beat in Cincinnati again a year later. The Serb faced Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on his way to the title, and he cleared the first hurdle in style after defeating the Spaniard 6-1, 6-4 in the semi-final in one hour and 32 minutes.
Novak defeated Nadal for the fifth time in 19 meetings to advance to the 10th Masters 1000 final and set up the title clash against Federer a day later. Playing only his second tournament after Roland Garros and tendinitis in both knees, Nadal overcame three opponents to enter the last four.
However, he didn’t stand a chance against Djokovic, as the Serb had the advantage on serve and return from start to finish. Novak fired 21 winners and earned 15 more points than Rafa, defending the only break point he faced and stealing three times for a place in the final.
The Serb built the crucial advantage at the shortest range down to four shots, and outpointed the Spaniard to end the losing streak against one of the biggest rivals. Novak broke in the fourth game of the first set with a backhand cross and fired one from his right wing a few minutes later to confirm the lead and move up 4-1.
Nadal missed a backhand in the sixth game, and Djokovic clinched the opening set with a service winner soon after. Rafa saved three break chances early in the second set and closed it out with an ace to end his slide. The Spaniard served in the fourth game and missed a backhand to break and push the Serb 3-2 in front.
Rafa came back at 3-4 and earned the first and only break chance after Novak’s backhand error and squandered it after Djokovic’s well-constructed attack and a forehand cross winner.
Galimberti speaks about Djokovic
On current form, Novak Djokovic is practically unbeatable, according to former Italian player Giorgio Galimberti.
“He started the year great, objectively how he won the Australian Open I won’t tell you either, hands down. The only problem for the others is Djokovic, if he’s okay he’s unplayable. He won the final with a serious injury. To beat Djokovic there has to be a combination of things: he doesn’t have to be 100% and the opponents have to play the match of their life. He is complete and does everything,” the Italian expressed.
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