CINCINNATI, August 19, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
Coming into the Cincinnati Masters final, ninth seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia and 16th seed David Goffin from Belgium had previously met twice – both times this season – and split their two major matches. First, Medvedev garnered a third-round win at the Australian Open at the start of the year. Then, Goffin rallied for a five-set victory at Wimbledon en route to the quarterfinal round. Sunday’s championship final in the Western & Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center – Medvedev’s third final in three weeks – would break the tie and the winner would become the new Cincinnati Masters titlist.
As it turned out, the third time truly is a charm – and it was all Medvedev’s to savor. The 23-year-old Moscow native fired 10 aces, hit 23 winners and won all but three (27 of 30) of his first-serve points – and finished his 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory over Goffin with a flourish to earn his first ATP Masters 1000 crown. The outcome of the title match, which lasted one hour and 39 minutes, was never really in doubt. While Goffin gained two break points in the deciding game that, had he converted either of them, would have leveled the second set at 5-all, it made Medvedev all the more determined to win, especially after he fractured his racquet frame in a brief display of emotion. Quickly and calculated, Medvedev closed the door on Goffin by firing three services plus a service winner and outpointed his opponent 78-57. Game, set, match – and championship – Medvedev.
So THIS is how it feels to win your first #ATPMasters1000 🏆.
Congrats, @DaniilMedwed 🙌
— ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) August 18, 2019
“It’s hard to find words,” the likable Medvedev said during an on-court interview with ESPN‘s Brad Gilbert after his victory. “It’s the hard work I’ve been putting in. It would not be a good feeling to lose three finals in a row, so I’m really happy about this.
“I started cramping at 5-3, actually. It was the first time I cramped in three weeks. Then, I made four serves he didn’t return – three of them were aces – and it was unbelievable.”
Neither Medvedev nor Goffin had ever won a Masters 1000 title before Sunday. For the Belgian, it was his first Masters 1000 final, while Medvedev played in his second Masters 1000 final in two weeks. Despite the setback, Goffin’s game is on an upward trajectory – he’s ranked 19th – after falling to No. 33 in the ATP Rankings two months ago, his lowest ranking since September 2014. He’s projected to reach No. 14 when the new ATP Rankings come out on Monday.
“Of course, it was a tough period there,” Goffin recently said. “I was coming back from injuries. I had some trouble with my confidence. I couldn’t find my rhythm, my game. So it’s great now. I’m feeling great. I’m back at my best tennis.”
Meanwhile, Medvedev has blazed a trail throughout the North American hard court swing this month, finishing runner-up at Washington, D.C., and Montreal, while stringing together 14 of his ATP Tour-leading 44 victories. He’s done so by combining shear power with finesse. The Cincinnati Masters represented his third straight final. During this stretch of good form, Medvedev has accumulated three Top 10 wins, beating Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov in Montreal and Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati. The new Cincinnati Masters champion will debut at No. 5 Monday, a career-best ranking, as readies for the U.S. Open.
After reaching the Cincinnati final with an impressive come-from-behind 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 triumph over the defending champion and top seed Djokovic, which was his 15th match in 19 days, Medvedev said in a TV interview, “It’s a great feeling, especially this time (because) I beat the No. 1 to be in the final. That means that I deserve to be in this place. I played an unbelievable match.”
Less than 24 hours later, during his news conference after lifting his first Masters 1000 trophy, Medvedev reflected on his accomplishments. He said, “I have to say even if I wouldn’t have finished with the trophy, these weeks were amazing and the best in my life. But of course I think with the trophy is better. Especially if I would have lost three finals in a row, I would have not doubted myself but started asking myself how is it possible, three finals, lost all of them? What should I do differently in the final?
“I don’t have to ask myself these questions because I won the final. It’s been the best weeks in my life. My serve was the best in my life. My tennis was really consistent. I didn’t have one bad match. I’m just extremely happy.”
Dodig and Polasek lift doubles trophy
Unseeded and playing together in just their fourth tour-level event, Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Filip Polasek from Slovakia defeated World No. 1s Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, both from Colombia, 4-6, 6-4, 10-6, to win the Cincinnati Masters doubles crown.
It’s arguably the 34-year-old Polasek’s biggest of his 13 ATP Tour doubles titles after being sidelined from November 2013 through June 2018 due to a back injury. While recovering, he became a coach, then returned as a player a year ago. This was his first Masters title in his first Masters final. It was the fifth Masters 1000 crown for Dodig – including Cincinnati in 2016 – and each of those came with Marcelo Melo.
“To see a full stadium today was amazing for both of us, for both teams,” Dodig said, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “We had a great fight on the court and we really (played) great tennis today.”
Farah praised his opponents on the opposite side of the net. “They played a great match. They’ve been playing good for already a couple months and Polasek was out for a while,” he said. “To come back the way you’ve been coming back, it’s seriously very impressive, so congrats for that.”
By the numbers
When the new ATP Rankings are released Monday, new No. 5 Daniil Medvedev will become the first Russian Top 5 since Nikolay Davydenko in 2010. Medvedev leads the ATP Tour with 44 match wins this season, including a tour-leading 31 on hard courts.
What they’re saying
David Goffin on Daniil Medvedev: “He played unbelievable the last three weeks. He’s super solid. He doesn’t miss. It’s like playing against a wall. That’s why everybody is struggling, because he’s so consistent, now with more confidence.
“He’s a really good player, really good player. And on that kind of surface when it’s tough to control the ball, he’s just solid. It’s tough to make a winner, to be precise. He’s really good, unbelievable the level he had the last three weeks. Congrats to him.”