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Roger Federer salutes the crowd after defeating Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati final.

Sweet On Serve, Federer Wants More

A triumphant Roger Federer still sees room for improvement on serve

Roger Federer did not drop serve once on his way to capturing a record seventh Cincinnati title and did not face a sole break point against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final. Yet after ensuring Djokovic would come up short in the Western & Southern Open decider for the fifth time with a 7(6), 6-3 result, the Swiss great thought it was just an OK day on serve and in his continual push to achieve more, still cited room for improvement on that first delivery.

“I think I served well when I had to,” Federer said. “I knew the serve was going to be there when it was important … It's good when you can play with that confidence that you don't start to think, ‘Argh, love-15, this could be a break already’.

“I was serving very well this week, don't get me wrong, but I still think there was a little bit more room for improvement on the serve. I wasn't always hitting all spots as perfect as I was hoping it to be.  In practice I didn't feel this good, to be quite honest. I didn't think I was going to hold serves that frequently and that easily throughout the tournament, because that's usually the part of your game that goes away. When you're on vacation the serve becomes rusty and pressure points, you're not sure exactly how it goes anymore.”

Fortunately, having taken time off following his four-set defeat to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, he was a little less critical on other elements of his game. Dominance on serve aside, the 34-year-old would leave Cincinnati satisfied with where his game was at for the remainder of the season.

“I think I played very good also off the baseline. I was moving well I think all week,” Federer said. “I think that's always crucial for me, to be getting out of the blocks early, fast, understand when to come forward, and when I do that it's explosive. Throughout the week it's been very good and I've been very pleased.

“I think I was very creative on the return games. That might give me a lot of hints and information moving forward. So many things I actually can do that maybe I didn't always know I could do or didn't dare to do because I thought it was too crazy … After this week I might look at that a little bit different.” 

With victory, Federer tilted his FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Djokovic 21-20 in his favour and for the first time in his career, he beat the Top 2 players back-to-back to claim a title. Given the 24-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion has occupied one of the Top 2 spots for much of his career it is hardly surprising. However, his straight-sets dismissal of the World No. 1 ensured a return to the No. 2 spot he had vacated this week to Andy Murray. It guaranteed the No. 2 seeding at next week’s US Open in New York but Federer was not reading into those numbers too much.

“For me, let's just say I'm answering your question if I play Novak in the semis or in the finals, for me wouldn't it be maybe better to play Novak in the semis?  You know, possibly ... Now it's out of the question. I won't see him before the finals (in New York). To be quite honest, I don't think that far ahead because I haven't been in a (US Open) final since 2009.” 

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