Federer back to winning ways with Fourth Cincinnati Crown

ATP World Tour No. 2 Roger Federer ended a seven-month title drought on Sunday as he battled past the in-form Mardy Fish 6-7(5), 7-6(1), 6-4 to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters for a fourth time.

Federer had gone title-less since capturing his 16th Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open (d. Murray) in January and was contesting his 90th tour-level final. In winning his 63rd tour-level title, the Swiss moved into joint-fifth position with Bjorn Borg in the list of Open Era (since 1968) title leaders.

The 29-year-old Federer also won the Cincinnati title in 2005 (d. Roddick), 2007 (d. Blake) and 2009 (d. Djokovic) and became only the second player to win the title four times, joining Swede Mats Wilander (1983-84, ’86, ’88). He is the first player to win back-to-back titles in Cincinnati since Andre Agassi in 1995-96.

By virtue of winning his 17th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy, Federer received 1000 South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings, which will further boost his chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The top eight players at the end of the season qualify for the year-end championships at The O2 in London.

"I've been playing well the past couple weeks, and today was just another proof that I'm playing really well," said Federer. "I thought I played an excellent match today. I had huge belief that I was going to win today from the first point until the end. That sometimes can make a bit of a difference. Then I was positive all the way through because I felt I was playing well, even though I lost the first set. So I never got down on myself and doubted myself. I think that reflected in the game as well."

After the disappointment of losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals to Tomas Berdych, Federer said he had spent the following six weeks looking for areas to improve in his game, notably his aggressive stance on hard courts. The hard work paid dividends as he advanced to the Toronto final last week (l. to Murray) and impressed against Nikolay Davydenko and Marcos Baghdatis to reach another final this week.

While he was not at the same high level throughout the whole of Sunday’s final, he employed his new tactics at the key moments by raising his intensity levels and aggression in the second-set tie-break and closing stages of the third set to record his sixth win in seventh meetings with Fish.

After failing to convert on four break point chances in the first set, courtesy of clutch serving from Fish, Federer then squandered a 5-4 mini-break advantage in the tie-break as Fish hit back to win the final three points and clinch a one-set lead.

An unusually subdued Federer still struggled to find his A-game in the second set and was made to fight off a break point chance for Fish in the fifth game, earning a reprieve as the attacking American went for too much on a forehand down the line. The danger served to fire up Federer and as the set went to another tie-break, he raised his game up a gear to dominate Fish from the outset. The Florida resident, who had gone 18-4 in tie-breaks throughout the season, was unable to find an answer as Federer went on the attack and sealed the tie-break 7-1 to force a deciding set.

Federer was unable to capitalise on his momentum in the early stages of the third set as Fish continued to keep the Swiss at bay with fine serving. However, a tight game from Fish at 4-4, coupled with purposeful aggression from Federer, yielded the decisive service break for the Basel native, who then confidently served out the match in two hours and 40 minutes.

"I thought I played well the whole match through," assessed Federer. "I don't think I played better in the second or third set. I thought the first set was the one I really should have won and ended up losing, so I think it was a close match. Could have gone either way. I had a tough moment staring at one set down and break point in the second set. You think you're playing a good match, but you might lose 6 and 4. I hung tough and made him work hard and was able to come across the finish line faster than him."

Date: 23.08.2010, Source: ATP


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