- Roger Federer lost the Cincinnati Masters final against Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
- It was good news for Djokovic, who becomes the first tennis player in history to complete a ‘Career Masters’ by winning all nine ATP Masters 1000 events.
- But it was bad news for Federer, who looked truly awful against Djokovic and has clearly been struggling for form in his biggest matches of the summer.
- There are few chances for Federer to end the year on a high – and the 36-year-old will surely be looking at the upcoming US Open as a last-chance saloon for success this year.
There’s something wrong with Roger Federer.
The 37-year-old was on top of the tennis world just eight months ago, when he broke down into tears while lifting the 2018 Australian Open trophy. He had won the first major of the new year, his 20th Grand Slam title in total, and there was reason to believe there could be more in store for the rest of the year.
But things quickly went awry. He skipped the entire clay court season, leaving Rafa Nadal openly wondering whether Federer was avoiding him. It may have been a bid to preserve career longevity, but things backfired massively when he was dumped out of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships earlier this summer.
More recently, Federer looked truly awful when he lost in straight sets (6-4, 6-4) to old rival Novak Djokovic in the 2018 Cincinnati Masters final on Sunday.
On paper, Federer should have triumphed. He had been serving well all week, and he had a good head-to-head record against Djokovic at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio – winning in Cincinnati finals on three previous occasions.
But Federer stumbled, Djokovic stamped a clear authority on the match, and his victory ensured he had won the one Masters title that had so far eluded him. Djokovic’s win was one for the history books – he became the first tennis player to win all nine ATP Masters 1000 events since the series began in 1990, according to The Guardian.
But is Federer history, too?
It is far too early to write Federer off at the elite level, but the veteran will surely be massively disappointed with how things have played out this summer.
Prior to his meeting with Djokovic, Federer had held his serve for 46 consecutive games but Djokovic put an end to that run at the weekend when he broke Federer to lead 4-3 in the first set. Djokovic took the lead in the second set, again leading 4-3 after breaking Federer, who made an extraordinary 39 unforced errors.
It is not the first time Federer has performed poorly in the year’s biggest matches, as he lost form midway through his Wimbledon quarterfinal against Kevin Anderson.
Federer coasted to a two-set lead over Anderson in July, but threw it all away and allowed Anderson back into the match, losing two sets to tie 2-2, before losing a gripping fifth set by an incredible 13-11 score.
There are few opportunities for Federer to end the season on a high note – but after taking so much time off to ensure he is as fit and as fresh as possible for the grass and hard-court season, he must be looking at the upcoming US Open as a last-chance saloon for success this year.
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