Djokovic wins Cincinnati title to complete Masters matched set

Novak Djokovic claimed his Masters record on his first match point and now heads to the US Open as a title favorite after a string of sub-par seasons and an elbow injury. (AFP)
Updated 20 August 2018
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Djokovic wins Cincinnati title to complete Masters matched set

  • Novak Djokovic finally lifted the Cincinnati trophy after five prior Cincinnati finals losses
  • Roger Federer, meanwhile, lost a final in the hardcourt US Open tuneup for the first time

CINCINNATI: Novak Djokovic ended a career-long jinx, lifting the trophy in Cincinnati at last to complete a matched set of Masters 1000 titles.
Djokovic, who came up empty in five prior Cincinnati finals, defeated seven-time winner Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
The former world number one became the first man to win all nine of the ATP’s Masters 1000 events in the elite series’ current configuration.
Federer, meanwhile, lost a final in the hardcourt US Open tuneup for the first time.
“I played five finals (here) before, and most of those finals I lost to this great man, Roger ... thank you for letting me win here once in Cincinnati,” Djokovic joked.
“This is a dream come true,” Djokovic said. “I finally won Cincinnati after six finals, some against the greatest ever, Roger.”
Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam winner, said his game wasn’t sharp — but he didn’t want to take anything away from Djokovic’s achievement.
“Novak is a great champion,” Federer said. “This is about him making history.”
Federer’s streak of 100 straight unbroken service games in Cincy was ended by Djokovic in the seventh game of the first set.
The 37-year-old Swiss had been aiming for a 99th career trophy, but was unable to get over the line due in part to four double-faults at the most inopportune of times, but he said his return game was also lacking.
“It was definitely not my best day on the return — it was just awful,” Federer said. “Missing every second serve on the forehand side, I don’t know what that was about.
“But I don’t even want to look for reasons why it happened,” he added. “Novak totally deserved to win today. This (effort) was not good enough.
“Good week, but I’m happy it’s over and I need to rest,” added Federer, his eye on the US Open starting in New York in eight days.
Djokovic claimed the opening set in 37 minutes and came back from an early break in the second to overhaul his longtime rival as they played for the 46th time.
The Serb now leads Federer 24-22 and has won their last three encounters.
The pair had not played since the 2016 Australian Open semifinals more than two and a half years ago.
Wimbledon champion Djokovic claimed his Masters record on his first match point and now heads to the US Open as a title favorite after a string of sub-par seasons and an elbow injury which required surgery.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. it’s been a couple of tough months for me with an injury and then winning Wimbledon and Cincinnati,” Djokovic said.
Federer started the match with three aces in the opening game, then added a pair of love games for a 3-2 lead.
But it began to unravel as the Swiss double-faulted to yield a break point, dropping serve as Djokovic moved ahead 4-3.
Djokovic took advantage for a 5-3 lead and closed out the set after 37 minutes.
Federer broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set but gave the break back immediately as he double faulted to give Djokovic a break point which the Serb promptly converted.
Djokovic broke again to lead 4-3, and after Federer held to close the gap to 4-5 Djokovic ended the afternoon in the next game on his first match point.


Ranieri confident of pulling ‘quality’ Fulham out of the mire

Updated 16 November 2018
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Ranieri confident of pulling ‘quality’ Fulham out of the mire

  • Ranieri, the manager behind Leicester’s incredible 2016 league title win, took over from sacked Slavisa Jokanovic on Wednesday
  • Claudio Ranieri: When I watched some matches I said this team has enough quality to be safe ... I need fighting spirit

LONDON: Claudio Ranieri said Friday that he was confident that he can drag rock bottom Fulham out of relegation danger after taking over at the newly-promoted Premier League side this week.
Ranieri, the manager behind Leicester’s incredible 2016 league title win, took over from sacked Slavisa Jokanovic on Wednesday after his Serb predecessor only managed one win in 12 matches in his debut season as a coach in England’s top flight.
Fulham have lost nine times on their way to gaining just five points, but Ranieri believes there is still hope for a team bolstered with around 100 million euros ($114 million) of summer signings after winning promotion from the Championship last season.
“When I watched some matches I said this team has enough quality to be safe ... I need fighting spirit,” said Ranieri to reporters on Friday.
The Italian wants to combine that talent — owner Shahid Khan splashed out on Jean Michael Seri Andre Schuedefensivesrrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Alfie Mawson — with the grit that saw his Leicester team overcome all the odds two years ago.
“Quality with fighting spirit we can do a good job. If there is only quality, without organization, defensive tactics, it’s difficult to help the players to maintain the clean sheet,” added Ranieri.
“Now for me it’s important to put in the brain of my players this philosophy. Play football, play well, but when you lose the ball I want to see you with an anchor, like pirates.”
Ranieri returns to England as a coach for the first time since being sacked by Leicester in February 2017 after a disastrous title defense.
He was in Leicester last weekend to pay his respects to Foxes owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and the four others killed in a helicopter crash last month.
However Ranieri played down suggestions of creating another miracle by winning the title with Fulham.
“Forget what happened yesterday, that was a bonus. A fairytale I forget,” the 67-year-old said of his and Leicester’s first ever league title win.
“Now it’s important, don’t think about the miracle. It’s important there will be a lot of battles and it’s important to be ready together.”
Asked whether he would reward his Fulham players with pizza when they kept clean sheets like he did at Leicester, Ranieri joked: “Pizza is not enough now. Better everybody to McDonald’s.”
He will face two of his former clubs in his first three games, with the December 2 trip to Chelsea followed by what will be an emotional return to Leicester three days later.
He said: “I think only of Southampton. In this moment it’s important. Don’t think about other things, Southampton, Southampton. And then after Southampton, Chelsea.”