Novak Djokovic recalls: 'Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play different tennis'

After reaching the title clash in 2008, Novak Djokovic was among the players to beat in Cincinnati again a year later. The Serb faced Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer en route to the title, and he passed the first obstacle in style after toppling the Spaniard 6-1, 6-4 in the semi-final in an hour and 32 minutes.

Novak defeated Nadal for the fifth time in 19 encounters to advance into the tenth Masters 1000 final and set the title clash against Federer a day later. Playing only the second tournament after Roland Garros and tendinitis in both knees, Nadal ousted three rivals to enter the last four.

He stood no chance against Djokovic, though, as the Serb had the upper hand on serve and return from start to finish. Novak fired 21 winners and took 15 points more than Rafa, defending the only break point he faced and stealing the rival’s serve thrice for a place in the final.

Novak Djokovic faced Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in Cincinnati 2009.

The Serb built the crucial advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, and he overpowered the Spaniard to end the losing streak against one of the greatest rivals.

Novak broke in the opener’s fourth game with a backhand crosscourt winner and fired one from his forehand wing a few minutes later to confirm the advantage and move 4-1 ahead. Nadal netted a backhand in the sixth game, and Djokovic clinched the opener with a service winner soon after.

Rafa saved three break chances at the beginning of the second set and closed it with an ace to end his downfall. The Spaniard served in game four and netted a backhand to get broken and push the Serb 3-2 in front. Rafa returned at 3-4 and earned the first and only break chance following Novak’s backhand mistake and wasted it after Djokovic’s well-constructed attack and a forehand crosscourt winner.

World no. 4 clinched the game with a short backhand crosscourt winner and emerged at the top after forcing the rival’s mistake at 5-4 for his second consecutive Cincinnati final. “I’m delighted with how I played; it was one of my best matches this season, and it came in a great moment ahead of the US Open.

I tried to gain control from the first point and be very aggressive on every ball, and I did that. The serve was exceptionally well when it needed to be, and I’m happy with my performance. I hope I can recover physically for tomorrow and challenge Roger in the final with another good performance.

I will try to stay focused and perform at my best, as I did tonight. I beat Roger twice this year in Miami and Rome from a set and a break down, not making a good start in those encounters; I will have to change that tomorrow.

Rafa runs a lot and gives you a lot of time to the things your way. Points are shorter against Roger, and it will be a difficult match if he brings his best tennis. It should be an interesting encounter,” Novak Djokovic said.


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