In an unforgettable showdown, Novak Djokovic emerged victorious against world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz at the Cincinnati Open, prevailing 5-7, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) after a thrilling nearly four-hour battle.
The heart-pounding contest saw Djokovic save a match point and conquer the scorching heat to claim his third Cincinnati title and exact revenge for his loss to Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final the previous month.
“This match ranks among the most exhilarating encounters I’ve ever played, in any tournament,” expressed Djokovic, the record holder of 23 Grand Slam titles, during the post-match trophy presentation. “It felt akin to a Grand Slam.”
With temperatures nearing 90 degrees, the 36-year-old Djokovic powered through the longest men’s match of the tournament since at least 1990, etching his name as the oldest male player to seize the championship. Notably, Ken Rosewall, aged 35, achieved this feat in 1970.
The clash, lasting an impressive 3 hours and 49 minutes, claimed its place in history as the longest best-of-three set final in ATP tour history, spanning back to 1990.
In the initial set, Djokovic seemed hindered by the oppressive humidity, struggling to move as Alcaraz seized the opener with a backhand winner. You may also read Uncertain Future for Trey Lance as 49ers Make Backup Quarterback Decision.
Alcaraz, the world No. 1, appeared dominant, taking a set and a break lead, and stood merely two holds away from capturing his seventh title of the season.
This followed their memorable Wimbledon final, where Alcaraz had triumphed over Djokovic in a five-set battle, dashing Djokovic’s hopes of achieving a calendar Grand Slam.
However, Djokovic made an emphatic return in Ohio. While Alcaraz retains his No. 1 status in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Djokovic trails by just 20 points, positioning him well to potentially reclaim the top spot during the upcoming US Open. Alcaraz is defending a hefty 2,000 points at Flushing Meadows.
In a gracious display of sportsmanship, Alcaraz commended Djokovic during the trophy ceremony: “It’s incredible competing against you, sharing the court, and learning from you.
This match was exceptionally close, and I gained valuable insights from a champion like you. Congratulations to you and your team.”
Djokovic, 36, secured a measure of retribution for his Wimbledon loss against the 20-year-old Alcaraz, as their head-to-head record evened out at two wins apiece.
Amid the high temperatures, Djokovic prevailed through the tournament’s lengthiest men’s match since 1990, etching his name as the oldest male champion.
The rematch of Alcaraz’s Wimbledon victory broke Cincinnati’s previous record of 2 hours and 49 minutes, established in 2010 when Roger Federer overcame Mardy Fish. This showdown also claimed the title of the longest three-set men’s match of the season, surpassing the previous record by three minutes.
“I have so much to say, but I’m not sure I have the energy,” Djokovic confessed as he cradled his trophy. He then turned to Alcaraz, acknowledging the young player’s unyielding spirit, stating, “You never give up, do you? I admire that about you. I hope to face you in New York – a prospect that’s exciting for fans, if not for me.”
As the U.S. Open approaches on August 28, Alcaraz, the defending champion, maintains his No. 1 ranking. You should also check Corey Davis Announces Intention to Step Away from Football.
The tiebreaks marked Alcaraz’s fourth and fifth of the week, with each of his matches extending to three sets. In contrast, Djokovic had sailed through the tournament without dropping a set until the final.
Alcaraz seized three consecutive games for a 6-5 lead in the third set, but Djokovic managed to hold serve, forcing a decisive tiebreak. While Alcaraz delivered a strong serving performance throughout the tournament, he began the tiebreak with a double fault.
Djokovic established a 3-0 lead, with Alcaraz making a comeback to tie the score at 4-4. An ace from.Djokovic clinched match point, and Alcaraz’s subsequent return sailed wide.
Acknowledging the fervent crowd, Djokovic expressed his gratitude: “This crowd’s energy has been incredible all week. You are a significant reason why I continue to play. These moments and matches are what motivate me to push myself day in and day out, to perform in front of you.”
With this triumph, Djokovic surpassed Rafael Nadal and Ivan Lendl for the third-highest number of Open Era wins, totaling 1,069. While Alcaraz’s journey to the Western & Southern Open final guaranteed his No. 1 ranking for the upcoming U.S. Open, the last Grand Slam event of the season.
The Cincinnati Open final witnessed Novak Djokovic’s indomitable spirit prevailing against Carlos Alcaraz in a marathon match that will undoubtedly be remembered as a tennis classic.