With 263 Masters 1000 quarter-final shared between them, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been the players to beat the premium ATP level for the last 15 years. Holding almost every vital record at this series, Roger, Rafa and Novak have pushed each other to the limits all the time, earning mind-blowing 97 Masters 1000 trophies in the previous 18 years.
The number would have probably already reached the magical number of 100 had it was a regular season, with no Masters 1000 tournaments in the first seven and a half months of the year due to the coronavirus. Cincinnati (staged in New York) is the first event at that level in 2020, with Novak Djokovic as the only player from the big 3 in the draw.
Standing as the favorite, Novak has reached the final following a tight victory over Roberto Bautista Agut in the decisive tie break. Before that, the Serb had accomplished another admirable achievement, becoming the third player with at least ten Masters 1000 quarter-finals at multiple tournaments, joining Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the exclusive charts.
To reach ten Masters 1000 quarter-finals is an excellent accomplishment by itself. Still, to repeat it at two different tournaments, you have to bring an extra level of consistency and stay competitive there for more than a decade.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have completed the task at four different tournaments, with Novak Djokovic joining them in Cincinnati this week, previously having ten quarter-finals in Rome. Novak had some neck issues in the first match against Ricardas Berankis, prevailing 7-6, 6-4 to set the third-round clash against Tennys Sandgren.
Raising his level, Djokovic scored a 6-2, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 28 minutes, setting the quarter-final clash with Jan-Lennard Struff.
Novak Djokovic has reached ten Masters 1000 quarter-finals in Rome and Cincinnati.
It was the 357th Masters 1000 victory for Djokovic and the 20th in 2020 from as many matches, looking sharp and producing incredible defense that left Sandgren empty-handed.
Novak lost 14 points in nine service games, fending off all four break chances to keep the pressure on the other side of the net. Sandgren couldn't follow those numbers, giving serve away thrice to propel world no. 1 into the quarters, his tenth in Cincinnati.
They both had 22 unforced errors, with Djokovic hitting five winners more and dominating more extended rallies (29-15), forging the triumph and staying on the title course. Djokovic didn't make a strong start in Cincinnati, winning just one match in 2005, 2006, and 2007 before reaching the final in 2008, losing two tie breaks against Andy Murray.
Until 2013, Novak rattled off six straight quarter-finals in Ohio, skipping the event in 2016 and 2017 before he finally went all the way to lift the trophy in 2018, competing in the sixth final at this prestigious tennis event.