Western & Southern Financial Group Masters
Djokovic Ends Nadal Streak to Reach Final
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
by ATP Staff|
Nadal's loss means he will officially take over No. 1 for the first time in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on Aug. 18. Nadal could have taken over No. 1 on Monday if he won the title or on Aug. 11 by reaching the final.
The 21-year-old Djokovic advanced to his fifth final of the season and he will take on No. 8 seed Andy Murray in Sunday's championship. Djokovic is 3-1 in finals this season and 10-4 in his career. He is attempting to capture his fifth different ATP Masters Series shield in his sixth final. He leads the career series 4-1 against Murray although the Scot won last week in the quarterfinals at the Rogers Masters in Toronto.
Djokovic ended a three-match losing streak to Nadal and improved to 4-2 on hard courts against the left-hander from Mallorca. Overall, Nadal leads the career series 9-4.
"Well, nobody is unbeatable, obviously, but the way he was playing we all thought that he's not going to lose any time soon," said Djokovic. "I just tried not to think about his winning streak and his new ranking spot. Not official still. I tried just to focus on my game and I won against him three times before on this surface, and I know what it takes to win against him on hard courts. I got the best out of it in last couple of matches we played in this surface. I knew that I have to step in and be aggressive and take the chances that have been given me, so that what's did."
Djokovic jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set before closing it out in 26 minutes. The Serb hit 11 winners to Nadal's two and won 16 of 20 points on his own serve in the first set. In the second set, Nadal's only break point came in the sixth game but Djokovic saved it. He broke Nadal in the 11th game at 15-40 and then served out the match, hitting a forehand volley winner on match point.
The difference in the one hour and 25 minute match came on second serve points won as Djokovic won 76 percent to Nadal's 47 percent. Djokovic converted three of four break points while Nadal never broke the Serb's serve.
It was Nadal's first loss in nearly three months since he fell to countryman Juan Carlos Ferrero in the opening round of ATP Masters Series Rome on May 7. Nadal will head into the upcoming Beijing Olympics with a 64-8 record on the season, including 30-7 on hard courts.
"I think he wants to be No. 1, too, no? But right now, first of all, I am not yet No. 1," said Nadal, when asked if Djokovic wanted to keep him from reaching No. 1 soon. "Second, I played a very good tournament here in Cincinnati, semifinal, and after winning in Toronto is almost perfect. So I played my best summer hard season in my life, so I am very happy for that. Today he played unbelievable in the first set. In the second, I felt well, in some moment I felt I was playing better than him. Finally, he beat me. He had the break at five-all. So I just congratulate him because he's playing well. You know how tennis is. Probably I wasn't at my 100% condition. During all this tournament I didn't play my best much. Today I think in the second set I played better than the days before, so happy for that because I end the tournaments with good feelings."
Murray Reaches First ATP Masters Series Final
The 21-year-old British No. 1 broke the big-serving Croat four times while losing his serve twice in the one hour and 21-minute match. Murray, now 3-0 lifetime against Karlovic, will face the winner of No. 3 Novak Djokovic-No. 2 Rafael Nadal in Sunday's championship. Last week at the Rogers Masters in Toronto, Murray defeated Djokovic in the quarterfinals before losing to Nadal in the semis.
By reaching the final, Murray will improve from No. 9 to a career-high No. 6 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on Monday.
"I played him three times now, and every time I've broke him," said Murray, who converted four of 13 break points. "I broke him I think four times today. I broke him three times at Indian Wells. Then San Jose I think I broke him three times as well. You know, he's obviously got a great serve, but I've read it well in the past. Today I did the same. Although I was reading his serve good, you still got to come up with passes because he volleys well. I hit some great lobs and passing shots, which is why I managed to break him so many times."
In Saturday's match, both players exchanged early breaks as Karlovic went up 2-0 but Murray broke in the next gamej at 15-40. Both players held until the seventh game when Karlovic netted a backhand volley at 15-40. Murray closed out the 35-minute set by holding at 40-0.
In the opening game of the second set, Murray broke on his eighth break point chance to take an early lead. Murray was broken in the sixth game at 30-40 to level the set at 3-3. But Murray regained the lead by breaking to go up 5-4. He then serve out the match at 40-15.
Karlovic, who came into the match with a tournament-leading 81 aces, was limited to six against Murray. He also only dropped serve once in 50 games coming into his first ATP Masters Series semifinal.
Murray is the first British player to reach the final in Cincinnati since Tim Henman in 2000 (l. to Enqvist). He will attempt to become the first British player to win an ATP Masters Series shield since Henman earned the title in Paris in 2003.
The Dunblane, Scotland native will be appearing in his third ATP final of the season, having captured titles in Doha (d. Wawrinka) in January and Marseille (d. Ancic) in February. This will be Murray's 10th career ATP final (5-4).
On reaching a career-high ranking, Murray added, "I think it's great to get as high as that. You know, the beginning of the year a lot of people were asking me if my new setup was going to work and questioning if it was the right thing for me to do. I think my results showed that it took a little bit of time but that it's paying off, and I'm enjoying myself much more on court. I'm much calmer, and obviously my results have got better and better as the year's gone on."