Federer flops as Djokovic makes history
NOVAK Djokovic created tennis history on Monday and for a change Roger Federer was on the receiving end of it.
The Serbian won the only ATP Masters title that had eluded him, overcoming Federer 6-4 6-4 in Cincinnati to become the first man to win all nine Masters tournaments since the concept was introduced in 1990.
"Thanks for letting me win here once," Djokovic joked to Federer at the trophy presentation. "I didn't play my best tennis today, but I managed.
"It's been a rollercoaster week."
Federer was all class in defeat. Although his temper boiled during a frustrating match, afterwards he was only interested in shining the spotlight on his rival.
"Novak, he's a great champion and this is what this should be about, this press conference," Federer said. "Not about me missing second-serve returns, it's about him making history. That's my opinion."
The Swiss champion had held serve in 100 consecutive games at the US event, which he has won seven times, but with the score locked at 3-3 in the opening set, Djokovic prevented Federer from making it 101.
The Serb's dominance prompted a rare moment of obscenity from his opponent, who was handed a code violation for his outburst.
The cracks continued to show when the Swiss maestro angrily stared down a spectator behind him who yelled out just before he served.
Djokovic converted his break into a 6-4 opening-set win when Federer netted but the tables turned to start the second set. Federer held serve then took a 2-0 lead when Djokovic double faulted on break point.
The crowd was firmly on Federer's side, chanting "Roger" at full volume just before he broke.
But Djokovic blocked out the noise and broke back the very next game. After Federer fought his way back to deuce, this year's Wimbledon champion held his nerve to snag his first game of the set.
But the 31-year-old's mood quickly turned sour when he was pinged for a time violation before the first point of the fourth game. The newly-introduced shot clock wound down to zero before he served, prompting a heated exchange with the umpire.
The official told a shocked Djokovic the shot clock started the moment he got out of his chair after the change of ends, which is why it hit zero without him realising.
Despite his protests, the violation stood, but the Serbian shook it off to hold serve comfortably and make it 2-2.
The set continued to go on serve and at 3-3 Federer took a 40-0 lead before several uncharacteristic unforced errors at the net and on his backhand wing brought it back to deuce.
It was Federer who wilted first and Djokovic sealed his second break of the set to take a 4-3 advantage with a brilliant passing shot.
A botched forehand drop shot gave Djokovic a 5-3 lead and Federer missed an easy approach volley on the first point of the next game before another unforced error made it 30-0.
"Things are getting out of hand here for Federer," one commentator said.
However, the 37-year-old somehow recovered to win the game with an ace to keep his slim title chances alive but that's where the optimism ended. Djokovic held serve to win 6-4 6-4 and enter the record books.