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Djokovic reached the finals of the Western & Southern Open for the second straight year Saturday, beating Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-2 in a reprise of their Olympics match. Del Potro defeated Djokovic for the bronze medal on Wimbledon’s lush grass two weeks ago.
“It’s a nice bonus, really,” Federer said. “When I was a kid I wasn’t thinking of winning five Cincinnatis, but then again here I am in this great situation being able to do it, the first man ever. So I’m obviously excited. Very often when I do now reach a finals there is something on the line. Here we go — there is something there.”
The top-ranked Federer beat Swiss countryman Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the other semifinal. It’ll be the seventh time that Federer and Djokovic have played for a tournament title, the last time in 2011 at Dubai. Federer beat Djokovic for the Cincinnati title in 2009.
Federer leads their career series 15-12, but it’s taken a few interesting turns lately. Djokovic beat him in the semifinals at the U.S. Open last year, then again in the semis at Rome and the French Open. Federer got the upper hand again in the semifinals at Wimbledon.
He won the Rogers Cup in Toronto last Sunday night, leaving him a little tired, but he managed to get some rest at the suburban Cincinnati tournament. He was on court for only a half-hour Thursday night, when Nikolay Davydenko had to quit their match because of a sore shoulder.
He used it in the long rallies.
Djokovic and del Potro exchanged a lot of shots from the baseline in the first set, with both players wasting chances to take control early. Djokovic got to the semifinal by holding serve in all 22 games during the tournament, facing only four break points. He faced that many in the third game of the match.
One of del Potro’s biggest concerns is his left wrist, which has nagged him for some time. The right-hander will have it checked before the U.S. Open by the same doctor who operated on his right wrist in 2010, when he missed most of the season while recovering.
During the first set, del Potro looked at his left wrist and shook it after a tough backhand shot, an indication those long rallies were stinging.
“Yeah, it’s bothering me all the time and I don’t want to risk too much,” del Potro said. “I have experience in wrist problems, and I would like to take time to fix this little problem.”
At one point, he thought about quitting because of the painful wrist.
“I’m playing well, even this match,” he said. “And the crowd here is very nice. It (centre court) was full today, and I didn’t retire because Djokovic is my friend and I have a lot respect of him and I want to finish the match.”
The men’s draw in Cincinnati took a hit this year when Rafael Nadal had to withdraw because of a sore knee. Nadal hasn’t played since Wimbledon and has already pulled out of the U.S. Open because of the injury.
Federer’s semifinal win set up a memorable finish.
By every measure, Wawrinka was overmatched. He came in 1-10 in his career against Federer, including 0-7 on hard courts. He’d lost his last eight matches against the Swiss star, dropping 19 of 20 sets.
He nearly had a breakthrough Saturday, fighting off five set points to take the opener to a tiebreaker. Federer pulled it out, taking advantage of a couple of backhand shots into the net by Wawrinka. The first set lasted 58 minutes.
That was Wawrinka’s best chance.