Novak Djokovic chases history versus Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic advanced to his sixth Cincinnati Masters final in 2018

by Jovica Ilic
Novak Djokovic chases history versus Roger Federer
© Rob Carr / Staff - Getty Images Sport

After losing five Cincinnati finals, Novak Djokovic made another title chase in 2018! World no. 10 passed a couple of formidable rivals and set the ultimate clash versus Roger Federer, seeking the missing Masters 1000 crown.

Novak met the 2016 champion Marin Cilic in the semi-final and scored a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 triumph in two hours and 32 minutes. They stayed neck and neck, with Djokovic taking only two points more than his opponent. Thus, Novak secured his 15th win from 17 duels versus Marin, advancing to his 45th Masters 1000 final.

The Serb saved nine out of 12 break chances, reducing the damage in his games and stealing Marin's serve four times to prevail after the decisive break at 4-3 of the decider. Cilic was the more productive player, which was the correct tactic.

He hit 42 winners and 40 unforced errors, while Novak stood on a 26-27 ratio, winning three points more in the shortest exchanges where he had to keep the pace with a hard-hitting rival. Novak claimed eight points on the return in the opening set, but that was enough for a single break in game three when Marin's backhand slice landed long.

Novak Djokovic arranged the Roger Federer clash in Cincinnati 2018.

That was the crucial moment of the set. Djokovic fended off a break chance in game six with a smash winner and another at 5-4 thanks to an unreturned serve to take the opener 6-4 in just under an hour.

The tables turned in the second set, with Cilic taking charge. Marin outplayed Novak from the baseline with deep and aggressive groundstrokes, scoring breaks in games two and six to open a 5-1 lead after the Serb's double fault.

Djokovic pulled one break back in game seven after Cilic's weak forehand and saved two set points on his serve in the next one before bringing it home with four consecutive winners, which was very important. Nonetheless, Marin sealed the set with a hold at love in game nine, firing an ace to introduce a decider with momentum on his side.

Novak drew first blood with a break in game four when Marin netted a forehand. However, his lead was short-lived, saving three break points in the next one before another double fault that cost him dearly, allowing Cilic to get back on the scoreboard.

Djokovic earned another break in game eight with a fantastic forehand down the line winner and served for the victory in the next one. Novak sealed the deal with a forehand winner, reaching his sixth Cincinnati final and the first at a Masters 1000 level since Rome 2017.

Thus, Novak set the clash against Roger Federer, trying to become the first player with all nine Masters 1000 titles.

Novak Djokovic Roger Federer Cincinnati Masters