On Sunday, Novak Djokovic won the Western & Southern Open title in Cincinnati, Ohio by defeating Carlos Alcaraz with a score of 5-7, 7-6(7), 7-6(4). This win was a redemption for his loss in the Wimbledon final.
At his first competition in the US since 2021, the 36-year-old Serbian player came back from losing a set and a break against the top-ranked player in the world. He also saved a match point to secure his third Cincinnati Open victory and his 95th title on the ATP Tour.
After a three hour and 49-minute competition, which was the longest best-of-three sets final on the ATP Tour since 1990, Djokovic fell to the ground for a few moments before standing up and ripping off his shirt.
“Without a doubt, this was one of the most challenging and thrilling matches I have ever been a part of in any tournament,” remarked a fatigued Djokovic after the game. “It truly had the intensity of a grand slam final, even more so. Whenever we face each other, the match always goes the distance.”
Djokovic expressed his desire to potentially face the 20-year-old in the US Open final next month, mentioning the possibility of playing against them in New York in a few weeks. He hesitated before stating that it may not be a pleasant experience for himself, but he hoped it would entertain the crowd.
During the second set, Alcaraz held a 4-3 lead and had the 23-time major champion in a difficult position. However, a series of mistakes, including four unforced errors, allowed Djokovic to regain control.
In the second round, a tiebreaker was necessary as the Serbian player saved a championship point and went on to win the 25-shot rally, ultimately forcing a third set to determine the winner.
In the third round, Djokovic was unable to take advantage of several opportunities to win the championship and the pair ended up in another tiebreaker, with Djokovic emerging as the winner.
“I am in awe of playing against you and being on the court with you. I have learned so much from a champion like you during this close match. Congratulations to you and your team.”
Djokovic made his return to US tournaments after his defeat in the 2021 US Open finals against Daniil Medvedev. Due to his decision not to get vaccinated for Covid-19, Djokovic was unable to enter the country for the past two years.
Earlier this year, the vaccine requirements for non-US travelers were lifted, allowing Djokovic to participate in Cincinnati.
Next up for both athletes is the US Open, starting on August 28 in New York. Djokovic’s goal is to win his 24th grand slam singles title, surpassing Margaret Court for the most all-time in men’s and women’s tennis.