Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic is on a roll at the Cincinnati Open where he has marched into the finals without dropping a single set throughout the course of the tournament. His path to the finals was paved with record-breaking wins, triumphs over crowd favorites, and a solid victory over Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.
Novak Djokovic systematically dismantled Zverev over the course of two grueling closely fought sets where he reigned 7-6(5), 7-5 on a chilly Cincinnati night. The match was a baseline slugfest and Djokovic’s consistency in returning balls caused Zverev to make many unforced errors.
This was Djokovic’s 1,068th career match win, which puts him level with Rafael Nadal and Ivan Lendl for most career victories, trailing only Roger Federer(1,251) and Jimmy Connors(1,274).
Djokovic gets shot at redemption against Carlos Alcaraz in Cincinnati final
It was just weeks ago that Djokovic suffered a heartbreaking loss to Carlos Alcaraz in a marathon Wimbledon finals match. Now their worlds have collided yet again, only this time it is on the gritty hard courts of Cincinnati. Alcaraz saved a match point before going on to beat Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 2-6 7-6(7-4) 6-3. He will look to repeat his heroics against Djokovic and seek glory for the umpteenth time in his young career.
For Djokovic though, it will be a shot at redemption against an opponent who described their age difference eloquently in his post-match interview after the Wimbledon win, saying “I was 5 years old when you(Djokovic) were winning tournaments.”
Alcaraz currently leads the head-to-head race at 2-1. Djokovic’s win came at this year’s French Open where his play looked too hot to handle on the slippery clay courts for Alcaraz who stumbled out with an injury. His redemption was accomplished though in the aforementioned match where he conserved his energy to pummel his elderly compatriot through five grueling sets.
It could be Djokovic’s turn now to turn the tables in his favor when they meet on Monday, 21st August 2023. Novak, both vary of his opponent’s prowess and appreciative of his talent summed up the test by saying,
“It’s the ultimate challenge at the moment for me. it’s a very good test prior to the US Open. Now it’s going to be the first encounter on a hard court. It’s still facing the top player of the world now who is in form. It’s the biggest challenge I could get, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Novak Djokovic broke into tears following Wimbledon loss
Following his loss at the Wimbledon finals, Novak Djokovic said that he should not have won the famous 2019 final against Roger Federer. He tearfully added that the loss against Alcaraz made it “even”. Djokovic has become a legend on Centre Court with only one player having previously defeated him in the past 10 years before Alcaraz usurped his throne.
He could not control his emotions as he turned to his family and addressed his son Stefan saying, “Yeah it’s nice to see my son still there still smiling. I love you, thank you for supporting me and I’ll give you a big hug and we can all love each other.”
With Federer having retired and Nadal missing out on tennis due to injury, Djokovic is the last remaining player from the ‘Big 3’. He is 36 and increased tension should take a toll on his body even though his mental fortitude seems ever so strong. There is a lot of chatter about his retirement but he still appears to be standing firm and continuing to bulldoze his way through tournaments with relative ease.
This final against Alcaraz holds multiple connotations for him. Not only could he take revenge and attain redemption but he also has the chance to regain his number-one ranking from Alcaraz. These reasons alone should lead to an enthralling final where the juxtaposition of young Alcaraz and aging Djokovic should provide ample entertainment to fans.
Can Djokovic defeat Alcaraz and regain his number-one ranking? Will Djokovic prove his mantle of being the potential G.O.A.T of tennis despite his age? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.