Since the beginning of the Masters 1000 series in 1990, only nine players have reached ten or more finals at the premium ATP level. ASs always, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic stand above all the others, securing almost every notable Masters 1000 record that will take some beating in the future.
For the last 15 years, the Swiss, the Spaniard and the Serb have been the dominant forces in tennis in general and at this particular level, claiming almost 100 titles and never losing ground, even after turning 30. Since 2002, the mentioned trio has played in the Masters 1000 titles match at least once for every season, with Federer leading the charts with 17 different seasons with at least one Masters 1000 final.
Rafael Nada is second with 15 (consecutive between 2005-2019), and Novak Djokovic is third with 13, reducing the gap to the legends above him following Friday's victory over Roberto Bautista Agut in Cincinnati. Staged in New York, Cincinnati is the first Masters 1000 event of the season due to the coronavirus outbreak, with Djokovic as the top seed and the favorite for the title.
In his first tournaments since the comeback, Novak has won four matches to advance into the 51st Masters 1000 final, earning his 13th season with at least one to come closer to Federer and Nadal. Djokovic's first Masters 1000 title matches came in 2007 and he has been the most consistent player at this series ever since, chasing the 35th title on Saturday against Milos Raonic.
Andre Agassi had 12 seasons with one Masters 1000 final, standing behind Djokovic now in the fourth place. Since 2007, Novak had failed to reach the Masters 1000 final only in 2010, establishing himself as the third-strongest link of this record following a tight 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 triumph over Roberto Bautista Agut in three hours in the semis.
This is Novak Djokovic's 13th season with at least one Masters 1000 final.
Bautista Agut made a remarkable comeback in the decider, coming from 5-2 down to rattle off four straight games and serve for the victory at 6-5.
Still, he couldn't endure the pressure, suffering a break at 30 and allowing Djokovic to win the tie break 7-0 and advance into the final. Novak won seven points more overall thanks to that dominant tie break (they were neck and neck before it), getting broken six times from 12 chances offered to Bautista Agut and converting six out of 14 opportunities on the return to stay in touch.
After such a grueling battle, Novak had 41 winners and 43 unforced errors, keeping Bautista Agut on a 26-31 ratio. The Serb had a slim advantage in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, winning two points less than the Spaniard in the most extended rallies that saw 44 battles with nine or more strokes.