After reaching the title clash in 2008, Novak Djokovic was among the players to beat in Cincinnati again a year later. The Serbian faced Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on his way to the title, and overcame 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 the second tournament after Roland Garros and tendinitis in both knees, Nadal edged out three opponents to enter the last four.
However, he had no chance against Djokovic, as the Serb had the advantage on serve and return from start to finish. Novak fired 21 winners and took 15 more points than Rafa, defending the only break point he faced and stealing the opponent's serve three times for a place in the final.
The Serbian built the crucial lead in the shorter range to four strokes, and outplayed 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 cross backhand and fired one from his right wing a few minutes later to confirm the lead and advance 4-1.
Nadal missed a backhand in the sixth game, and Djokovic secured the first set with a winning serve shortly thereafter. Rafa saved three break opportunities early in the second set and closed it with an ace to end his downfall.
The Spaniard served in the fourth game and missed a backhand to break through and push the Serbian 3-2 to the front.
Haas reflects on Federer
Tommy Haas believes that while Roger Federer is satisfied with the career he has had thus far, the Swiss still has a burning desire to make another comeback on tour and retire on his own terms.
The German pointed out that the Swiss is still "hungry" for success and wants the luxury of ending his illustrious career on his own terms. “He’s happy,” Haas added. “He has no reason not to be.
He knows that, there’s a lot of gratitude in him. He loves life. But he’s still hungry. He still hopes he can come back. He wants to stop when he wants to, to decide when it’s time to say you don’t like it anymore (because) you lose too much”.
Roger Federer underwent a third knee surgery a few weeks ago and was pictured using crutches during the recent Laver Cup. “It’s all going to depend on how he (Roger Federer) can overcome that (knee surgery) physically,” Tommy Haas said. “We’ll have an element of an answer in March, April, May”.