TENNIS

Roger Federer conquers a landmark title

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After a successful 2012 season that saw him win Wimbledon and three Masters 1000 titles, Roger Federer started to lose pace with his main rivals. The Swiss had to wait two years before securing the next big title at Cincinnati 2014.

In previous weeks, Roger had lost the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic and another in Toronto to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after squandering a sizable lead. The Swiss didn’t have much time to reflect on the loss, focusing on Cincinnati, one of his favorite tournaments on the calendar.

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Federer got off to a relatively slow start against Vasek Pospisil and Gael Monfils. He raised his level against top 10 opponents Andy Murray and Milos Raonic and set up the final encounter against David Ferrer on August 17. It was their 16th Tour clash, and Federer delivered the 16th triumph.

He beat the Spaniard 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 in an hour and 42 minutes to win the 80th ATP title. Thus, Roger became only the third player of the Open era to achieve this after Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl! The Swiss won eight points more than the Spaniard and played better on the first and second serves.

The contestants hit more winners than unforced errors, backed up by no less than 25 break chances that entertained the crowd. Roger repelled nine of 11 and grabbed three return games of 14 chances, dominating in the sets he won to lift Ohio’s sixth trophy.

Ferrer had the edge in longer rallies with five or more shots. Still, he couldn’t keep pace with Federer in the shorter area until four shots. Roger forged a 54-38 advantage which gave him the win. Federer fired his engines from the first point, holding the opener with an ace and moving 2-1 up front with another comfortable hold.

David was there to fight, however. He brought home game six with a service winner to level the score at 3-3 after just 17 minutes, looking determined to give Roger a run for his money.

Roger Federer won the 80th ATP title aged 33 in Cincinnati in 2014.

On the other hand, everything worked like a charm for Roger.

He took Game 7 with three winners and went 5-3 up after Ferrer’s costly double fault. As a result, David created three break chances a few minutes later. Yet it was not to be for him, denied by two volley winners from Federer, who played against another break point when his forehand landed long.

The Swiss did it with a service winner and wrapped up the opener in 30 minutes when David’s backhand ended outside the pitch. The Spaniard saved no less than four break chances in the opener of the second set.

He got three chances in game two and was hoping to forge the first advantage. Federer held them off with three winners before Ferrer converted the fourth after forcing Roger’s backhand error. A powerful hold at 15 sent David 3-0 ahead.

He was the dominant figure on the pitch and grabbed another break in game four when Federer’s soft shot failed to clear the net. Ferrer held on to sprint with a 5-0 advantage, claiming 15 of the last 17 points and leaving Roger far behind!

Things went from bad to worse for the Swiss, who had to save a set point in game six to avoid a bagel! He did it with a game-winning volley at the net and repelled another with a good serve to win the match and at least gain some momentum.

David saved a break point in game seven, and the set was in his hands after a backhand winner down the line. He matched Roger’s numbers in the fastest rallies and created a lead in the extended ones that delivered the set to him.

It was important for Federer to leave this part of the encounter behind him and get off to a good start in the deciding set. He returned a service winner to win the opener and added four more direct points in game three for 2-1.

His forehand meant business again, which was a game changer. Federer beat Ferrer in the fourth game to open the advantage and finished the next with four winners for 4-1. David saved plenty of break chances to reduce the deficit in game six, but that’s all we saw from him.

Federer held fast after that with four winners and forced his rival to serve to stay in the game. The Spaniard suffered another break in the eighth game when his backhand missed the baseline, and Roger could begin the most remarkable title celebration in two years.

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