Spending four and a half years on the ATP throne, Roger Federer had to let the crown to Rafael Nadal in August 2008, unable to keep the level from the previous seasons and keep the Spaniard behind. Nonetheless, Roger bounced back in 2009 after winning four big titles and completing a Career Grand Slam following a victory over Robin Soderling in the final of Roland Garros, also regaining Wimbledon title with a triumph over Andy Roddick.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga halted the Swiss in the quarter-final in Montreal and Roger was back on the winning way in the beloved Cincinnati, claiming his third title in Ohio in the last five years thanks to a 6-1, 7-5 win over Novak Djokovic in two hours and seven minutes on August 23.
Earlier in 2009, Novak overpowered Roger in the semi-final of Miami and Rome before Federer ended the losing streak at Masters 1000 events in Ohio, scoring his eighth victory over the Serb in 12 encounters and the first since the US Open last year.
Federer served at only 55% and drew the most from it, fending off three out of four break chances offered to Novak and keeping the Serb under all kind of pressure on the return after pushing the rival's second serve to the limits and creating 15 opportunities for a break.
Novak saved 11 of those to stay in contention in the second set, leading 3-0 and squandering a set point at 5-4 before losing the ground in the closing stages to suffer straight-sets defeat and miss a chance to conquer the sixth different Masters 1000 trophy.
Roger had 28 winners and 21 unforced errors while Djokovic stayed away from those numbers, hitting 18 winners but also 26 errors, unable to impose his shots or to topple Roger in the more extended exchanges. Federer lost just five points behind the first serve and had a clear advantage in the shortest rallies up to four strokes thanks to his initial shot, especially in the opener.
A former champion was the better player in the mid-range rallies as well, defending his backhand nicely and enduring the more complexed exchanges with Djokovic to keep the advantage on his side of the court. Roger kicked off the clash with a hold at 15 after a service winner, converting the seventh break chance in game two for an early break and the momentum.
A comfortable hold at 15 pushed Roger 3-0 up and Novak made another forehand error a few minutes later to find himself 4-0 behind in no time at all. Federer had barely put a foot wrong so far, holding at love to increase the lead to 5-0 and dominating with serve and also from the baseline to keep the Serb out of the scoreboard.
Djokovic finally got his name there in game six although that was all we saw from him in the opener, as Roger wrapped up the set with another service winner for a 6-1 in only 32 minutes. The Serb had to change things on the court rather quickly if he wanted to avoid a disaster, making a powerful hold at the beginning of the second set to gain the momentum ahead of the following games.
Novak fired a forehand winner to create the first break chance of the match in the second game, converting the third in the end to steal Roger's serve and forge the advantage when Federer sent a backhand long after a 19-shot rally.
After missing it in the opener, Djokovic found his composure from the baseline and created a 3-0 lead, looking good to send the match into a decider and extend his chances for the first title here. Four service winners in game four reduced Roger's deficit to 3-1 before breaking back in the next game when Novak sprayed a backhand error, gaining the boost and standing in the much better position than a couple of minutes ago.
Djokovic saved three break points at 3-3 to remain on the positive side of the scoreboard and gained a set point at 5-4 after a forehand mistake from Roger. The Swiss repelled it with an unreturned serve, keeping himself in the 11th game until creating a break opportunity that he converted after a deep return that sent him a game away from the title.
Four winners on own serve sealed the deal for Roger who lifted his third crown in Cincinnati in the previous five years, taking useful points to maintain in front of Djokovic and Nadal and finish the season as the year-end no. 1.