HomeSportsTennisNovak Djokovic equals Nadal's sensational Open Era record to set up blockbuster...

Novak Djokovic equals Nadal’s sensational Open Era record to set up blockbuster Alcaraz clash in Cincinnati Open final

The much-anticipated Wimbledon final rematch has now become a reality after Novak Djokovic continued his rampaging form to script another straight-set win, against Alexander Zverev in the semi-final tie late on Saturday night to reach the Cincinnati Masters final for the eighth time in his career. He has already won the event twice in his career – 2017 and 2019 – and will now be aiming for a record-extending 39th Masters 1000 title haul when he takes on Carlos Alcaraz in the final on Sunday.

Novak Djokovic reached his eighth final at the Cincinnati Open

Zverev remained the only player to win more than five games in a set against Djokovic this week as he forced a tie-break in the opener, where he had even sneaked an early lead, and went a break up in the second set to go on the verge of taking the match to the third set. But in a baseline slugfest under the lights, Zverev crumbled under pressure on both the occasions to go 6-7(5), 5-7 down in semis to the 23-time major champion.

“In very few of [Sascha’s] service games where I had chances, I think I played well, particularly five-all [after] he broke my serve to stay in the match,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “I managed to bounce back, played a great game to break him again and seal the deal in the 12th game of the second set.

“I’m pleased. I think there’s a few things I could’ve done better, but overall it’s a straight-sets win against a great player in form, so I’m really happy.”

Djokovic levels Rafael Nadal’s sensational Open Era record

After breaking the Spaniard’s elusive Open Era feat (18-0 vs Richard Gasquet) of a best unbeaten run against a single opponent when Djokovic humbled Gael Monfils in the round of 16 for the 19th time in his career, the Serb levelled another of Nadal’s sensational record on Saturday. With the victory of Zverev in Cincinnati, Djokovic secured his 1068th career match win at ATP events, equalling the legendary Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal for the third most among male players in the Open Era. The 36-year-old, however, managed the tally with fewer losses (211) compared to Lendl (242) and Nadal (220). Meanwhile, Jimmy Connors (1274-283) remains at the top of the elite list followed by Roger Federer (1251-275).

On Sunday, Djokovic will be playing his record-extending 57th ATP Masters 1000 final. And he will be up against Alcaraz, who had defeated Djokovic in a five-set thriller last week in the Wimbledon final. While revenge will be in Djokovic’s mind, he will also have an Open Era record in sight on Sunday. If he lifts his fourth title of 2023, he would become the oldest ever champion at the Cincinnati Masters in the Open Era, surpassing Ken Rosewall (1970).

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