Novak Djokovic’s enduring quest for the Rookwood Cup has finally concluded.
The 10th-seeded Serbian claimed his first Western & Southern Open championship on his sixth try by defeating second-seeded and seven-time tournament champion Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4.
He defeated Federer in the tournament finals for the first time in four tries using a solid combination of stout serves and well-placed returns that helped him capitalize on a day when Federer committed an uncharacteristic 28 unforced errors.
“This trophy has been a motivation, big motivation for me. But at the same time I tried not to think about the pressure of really making history too much, because I have had already some failed attempts.
“It wasn't easy psychologically because I knew I lost to him (Federer) every time I played him on this court. At the same time, I liked my chances because I felt better and better as the tournament week was progressing,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic’s 32ndall-time W&S Open victory also brings him a coveted piece of tennis history.
He’s the first to capture the ATP Golden Masters, a career collection of nine ATP Masters 1000 event titles that also includes those from Canada, Indian Wells, Madrid, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Paris, Rome and Shanghai.
“Definitely one of the most special moments in my career. Achievements, making history of the sport that I truly love is a great privilege and honor, something that I'll be very proud of for the rest of my life,” he said.
Djokovic won 78 percent of his second-serve points, 71 percent of his first-serve points and 53 percent of second-return points in the match.
Tied 3-3 in the first set with Federer holding the advantage, Djokovic won consecutive points when Federer pushed a return wide at the net and committed a double fault. Djokovic next painted a forehand winner down the line to take a 4-3 advantage he’d convert to a set victory.
“Roger wasn't obviously at his best. He missed a lot of returns. He also seemed like he had a difficult time moving,” Djokovic analyzed.
He bounced back from 0-2 in the second set to take another 4-3 lead off a break. Federer held the advantage twice in the sixth game before sending a backhand return into the net and committing a double fault. Djokovic seized the opportunity took the set with another forehand winner that hugged the line.
He’d hang on to the momentum to take his third straight and fourth victory over Federer in the last five meetings. Djokovic now leads the all-time series 24-22.
“I'm very pleased the way I held my nerves at the end, you know. Even when I lost the break of serve in the second set, I managed to rebreak the next game and get back on the right track,” he said.
A loss ends Federer’s tournament open-era match winning streak at 14 and marked his first loss in eight tournament finals appearances.
“It was definitely not my best day on the return. It was just awful. He served well, whatever, but missing every second serve on the forehand side, I don't know what that was about.I don't even want to look for reasons why it happened. Novak totally deserved to win today,” Federer said.