Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Federer seems to be getting betterer

Reinforces No. 1 status with win in Cincinnati

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MASON, Ohio -- Roger Federer finds a lot to like about Cincinnati -- the big crowds for his matches, the quiet time away from the court, the way his game seems to come together on the fast, blue courts.

Probably helps that he often takes home the trophy, too.

Make it five for Federer.

The world's top-ranked player won a record fifth Cincinnati title Sunday, dominating second-ranked Novak Djokovic in an unprecedented way at the start of a 6-0, 7-6 (7) win for the Western & Southern Open championship.

The 31-year-old Swiss star has enjoyed many of his one-week visits. None was better than the latest.

"Looking back, it's just unbelievable," Federer said. "This was probably the best week for me here in Cincinnati. I didn't lose a set. This is very sweet, no doubt about it."

Federer heads to the U.S. Open feeling healthy and fine-tuned. He skipped the Rogers Cup in Toronto last week, giving himself some time to recover from the Olympics in London.

He's also regained the upper hand against one of the players who stands in his way.

Djokovic had put together a run of three straight wins over Federer in tournament semifinals, starting with the U.S. Open last year. Federer turned it around by beating the Serb in the semis at Wimbledon last month.

They got together in a finals match for the seventh time in their careers Sunday. They'd split the previous six, with Federer winning the only Grand Slam championship match -- the U.S. Open in 2007.

Quickly, the latest one became a bit of personal history. They've never had such a lopsided day together on the court.

Ranked No. 1 and No. 2, perhaps, but worlds apart on this day.

Federer won the first set in only 20 minutes, allowing Djokovic just 10 points. It was the first time in their 28 career matches that one of them took a set 6-0. For perspective, Federer hadn't beaten anybody 6-0 in a tournament final since 2007.

Both players seemed a bit stunned.

"I was hoping for a good start, but not like that," Federer said.

Perhaps Djokovic's schedule had something to do with it. After the Olympics, he went right to Toronto and won the Rogers Cup last Sunday. He didn't expect to make it to a second final in eight days.

"It was a final today, so I really wanted to win," Djokovic said. "There is no question about it. Maybe playing couple weeks in a row, four weeks in a row, got to me maybe mentally. Physically it didn't. I felt OK on the court."

Both reached the final in a dominating style -- neither lost their serve or a set during the week.

Federer put an end to that right away.

Helped by a double-fault, Federer broke Djokovic's serve to start the match. Then, aided by two more double-faults, he broke him again to go up 3-0. Djokovic went to his chair at the break and grabbed a different racket, hoping to change the flow of the match.

Made no difference whatsoever. Federer served back-to-back aces that Djokovic couldn't touch with that new racket.

It was domination all around -- Djokovic had 10 unforced errors in the opening set, the same number of points he won. The Serb had four double-faults, each one setting up a break point or ending a game.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 20, 2012 C6

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