Joker loses his 4th Cincy final in 5 years
August 19, 2012 | 02:18 PM
After a perfect set, Fed was as close as anyone's ever been to winning a perfect match and winning the first perfect tournament at this level. Call it perfect...
The 1st set was a lopsided 6-0. If such a thing requires amplification, it took barely 20 minutes, and Joker wasn't there. He didn't hit a winner, double-faulted four times, and won only 1 of 10 points on his 2nd serve. Roger was everywhere, firing forehand winners right and left, attacking with ease and, though he hardly needed to play defense, when he did it looked like his back-foot offense was just as easy for him as going forward.
The 2nd set was just as close it could be. There were no break points for either player, and until 7-7 in the breaker, they were dead even in point totals: 40 each.
The tie-break advantage see-sawed between them, with Fed going up 3-0 and then making 3 unforced errors to let Joker serve at 4-3. A nervous forehand error cost Joker his lead, and two winning serves from Fed gave him the first set point with Joker serving at 5-6. A forehand winner evened it at 6-6 and when forced an error from Fed's forehand, Fed had to serve at 6-7. Three decisive winners followed from Fed's racquet:
- at 6-7, Fed managed to stage an attack after a 2nd serve, parried a couple of drives with volleys at the net, and put away Joker's attempt at a topspin lob with an overhead smash.
- at 7-7, Fed followed a 1st serve with a forehand winner
- at 7-8, Fed returned Joker's 1st serve with enough depth to force a ball he could put away with another forehand winner.
The 2nd set had seen Joker dig in from the start with better serving, and the effort needed to force longer exchanges. Fed was untroubled by the fact that his 1st serve percentage dipped (from 73% to 54%), and some nervous errors crept into his games here and there. But he continued to serve effectively enough to hold without much difficulty, as he had throughout the tournament.
It may be his first complete tournament without the loss of a single service game (he thinks he may have done it once before in Qatar, a smaller that starts out the year). If he hadn't faced a single break point in the week, the facts would argue that his accomplishment was on a par with a baseball pitcher throwing a perfect game. (Alas, he faced 1 break point in the 1st set of his first round against Bogomolov).
Does this make Fed any more the favorite to win the Open?
If so, it will be because once again, his legendary status will begin to have had an effect on all the other players. In any event, I wouldn't bet on anyone else over him.
His goal this year was to win Wimbledon again, recover the #1 ranking and have at least a shot at the Gold medal. The Open wasn't on his list - maybe it should have been.
The Serb is now used to losing finals in Cincy: this was his 4th in 5 years (last year he retired from his final with Murray, but it didn't seem to hurt him at the Open). After winning last week in Toronto, he could have been the 4th man to win the summer double.
The Open draw is this Thursday - stay tuned for analysis then.
The WOMEN'S CINCY FINAL is on ESPN2 at 4pm (if it is not pre-empted by Little League Baseball, as the first men's semis was yesterday). When junior tennis pre-empts Yankees-Red Sox games, I'll consider the score even.
Cincy ATP Final 8.19.12