Read & Watch: Federer Sets Djokovic Blockbuster
He's been the king of the 'Queen City' for more than a decade, and now Roger Federer is one win from reclaiming his Cincinnati throne.
Federer booked a blockbuster championship clash against Novak Djokovic after defeating David Goffin on Saturday at the Western & Southern Open. He moved past the Belgian when his opponent retired due to a shoulder injury at 7-6(3), 1-1.
Facing Goffin for the first time since suffering a semi-final loss at last year's Nitto ATP Finals, Federer restored order in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, which now stands at 7-1. Goffin stopped play after 63 minutes, while serving at 1-1 40/30 in the second set.
Most Finals Reached At A Single Masters 1000
|Player||No. of Finals||Tournament|
|Roger Federer||8||Indian Wells|
Federer extended a slew of Cincy streaks with the victory. He has now held serve in 97 consecutive service games and owns 14 straight match wins at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. Moreover, the Swiss has claimed 17 of his last 18 sets played.
"I just think in general here in Cincinnati you've got to win the big points," said Federer. "There are not that many opportunities, especially if you protect your serve well. Everything goes very quickly. You can't play the rallies like you normally would like to. You're playing very reactive on the return and active on your own serve. Of course it helps when you win that first-set tie-break, because it's an emotional boost, as well, besides getting extra confidence.
"So I was just happy how I was able to lift my game up throughout the set, and then also in the breaker, I played a good breaker, so I was actually very happy."
Few players have enjoyed the run of dominance that Federer has in Cincinnati. He enters the championship with a 7-0 record in finals. It marks the second Masters 1000 tournament in which he has reached eight title matches, along with the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
As he did in Friday's quarter-final against Wawrinka, Federer got off to a slow start against Goffin. Competing in his first tournament in a month, he struggled to find his footwork and rhythm throughout the first set. But the World No. 2 found his top level when he needed it most. With Goffin serving at 5-6, he earned a trio of set points behind three blasted forehand winners. The Belgian would hold, but Federer rode the momentum into the ensuing tie-break, taking the opener after just under one hour. Goffin received a medical timeout between sets, for treatment on his right shoulder, before eventually pulling the cord two games later.
"It didn't make sense to continue," said Goffin. "I was serving 100 miles per hour first serve and I felt my arm and my shoulder. After I lost the first set, I had to serve two more sets to win the match, so it didn't make sense to continue.
"But overall I was feeling great. I was moving well. I was feeling my forehand really well. So on the baseline I was feeling good. It was a different kind of serve because I was serving differently because of the speed of my ball, and it would have been tough to win."
Federer advances to his 150th tour-level final, moving to within eight of Jimmy Connors' Open Era record. He has reached six title matches this year, having triumphed at the Australian Open and in Rotterdam and Stuttgart, while finishing runner-up in Indian Wells and Halle.
On Sunday, Federer will renew his riveting rivalry with Djokovic, clashing for a 46th time. The Serbian leads the FedEx ATP Head2Head series 23-22 and has claimed the previous two encounters, at the 2015 Nitto ATP Finals and 2016 Australian Open. But Federer will be bolstered by a perfect mark in Cincinnati finals against his longtime rival. They have met every three years in the title match, with the second seed not dropping a set in lifting the trophy in 2009, 2012 and 2015. Will the streak extend to 2018?