CINCINNAT (AFP) – World number one Novak Djokovic will be aiming for a slice of ATP history on Sunday when he takes on six-time champion Roger Federer in the ATP Cincinnati Masters final.
Djokovic battled back to beat Ukrainian qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 on Saturday to set up his 41st career meeting with Federer — who dispatched last week s Montreal winner Andy Murray 6-4, 7-6 (8/6).
Djokovic, seeking a 20th ATP Masters 1000 title, will try to claim his first trophy on the hardcourts of Cincinnati after losing in the final four times.
With a win he d become the first player to triumph in all nine of the ATP s elite Masters 1000 events — a feat that Federer said would be “quite unbelievable.”
“I gave myself another chance to fight for the trophy,” Djokovic said. “That was the goal and that was the wish coming here in Cincinnati.
“Obviously the last couple of years it was always in the back of my mind, the potential history making, and obviously that motivates me even more.
“Having that in back of my mind helped me to go through matches like one today.”
But Djokovic said he d have to play better than he did against 66th-ranked Dolgopolov.
Although Djokovic gained the upper hand in the second set with a break for a 5-3 lead, the Ukrainian promptly broke back to push the set to a tiebreak in which Dolgopolov led 3-0 and 5-4 before Djokovic managed to level the match at a set apiece.
From there, Djokovic took control, breaking Dolgopolov twice for a 4-1 lead in the third en route to the victory in two hours and 20 minutes.
The outcome mirrored their most recent meeting, in which Djokovic defeated Dolgopolov 6-7 (3/7), 7-5, 6-0 in the round of 16 at the Miami Masters.
Along the way Djokovic received on-court treatment early in the second set for tightness in his abdomen. But the Serbian star said the trouble was nothing to worry about with the US Open approaching in nine days.
“It s OK, nothing major,” Djokovic said.