Cincinnati Masters: Roger Federer Draws the Short Straw

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Cincinnati Masters: Roger Federer Draws the Short Straw
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Canadian Open was anything other than Rogers Cup as Federer followed Murray and Nadal out of the Montreal Masters. The three of them have one more chance to build their hard-court momentum in time for the US Open at this week’s Cincinnati Masters.

The shocks in Canada came almost at once and turned the bottom half of the Montreal Masters on its head. Two of the top quartet in the men’s game, slated to play one another in the semifinals, lost their opening matches: No. 2 and semifinalist last year, Rafael Nadal; and No. 4 and defending champion, Andy Murray.

All eyes therefore turned to the standout contest of the third round between No. 3, last-year’s finalist Roger Federer, and No. 13, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. This one had scores to settle, both fresh and old.

Federer suffered his first Grand Slam loss from a two-set advantage at this year’s Wimbledon—to Tsonga. But at the forefront of Federer’s mind, judging from his pre-match comments, was their quarterfinal meeting in Montreal two years ago. In that, too, Tsonga made a remarkable comeback from 1-5 down in the final set to win the match in a tie-breaker.

Their meeting, once again, lived up to expectations as the sparkling Frenchman, finding his old uninhibited tennis without the help of a coach, beat Federer, this time surging through the final set, 6-1.

One man, though, stood by his ranking, form and reputation all the way to the Montreal title. Novak Djokovic, like his elite colleagues, was making his first return to the tour since Wimbledon and he, like them, looked a little rusty in his opener against Nikolay Davydenko.

He avoided the dangerous waters of Del Potro—Marin Cilic found his rhythm in a rain-disrupted match to beat the Argentine, but then fell to the Serb.

With some matches under his feet, Djokovic then hit cruise-mode to take out an in-form Gael Monfils in just 73 minutes and an injured Tsonga in the semis. He saved the best for last in an impressive and resilient three-set victory over Mardy Fish in the Final.

So, the Serb’s 2011 record continues to build: 53 wins and just one loss, nine ATP titles (Robin Soderling is next with four) and the first player to take five Masters 1,000 titles in a season.

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