In an epic showdown under scorching Ohio sun, Novak Djokovic defied all odds, including a near-miss match point, to clinch a sensational victory against world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz in a nail-biting final at the Cincinnati Open.
Djokovic’s triumphant roar echoed across the court as he sprawled on his back and triumphantly tore his shirt off, signaling his hard-fought win in a grueling, almost four-hour marathon. This victory marked Djokovic’s third Cincinnati Open title and served as sweet revenge following his recent loss to Alcaraz at Wimbledon.
Describing the intensity of the match, Djokovic, the record-holder for men’s Grand Slam titles with 23 to his name, remarked, “This was one of the most exhilarating matches I’ve ever played in any tournament. It felt like a Grand Slam.”
Battling temperatures close to 90 degrees, the 36-year-old Serbian legend etched his name in history as the oldest man to claim this championship. Ken Rosewall was 35 when he achieved this feat back in 1970.
With a match duration of 3 hours and 49 minutes, this final became the longest best-of-three set showdown in ATP tour history, dating back to 1990.
As the first set unfolded, Djokovic appeared to struggle with the oppressive humidity, and his movements grew sluggish, eventually yielding the set to Alcaraz, who capitalized on this opening.
In the second set, Alcaraz surged ahead with a 4-2 lead, hinting at a smooth victory. However, a pivotal service game mishap from Alcaraz, featuring four unforced errors while leading 4-3, reinvigorated Djokovic’s challenge. In a gripping second-set tiebreak, Djokovic staved off a championship point and rallied to secure the set, setting the stage for a dramatic final act.
During the interval before the third set, an agitated Alcaraz vented his frustration by pounding his hand against a nearby plastic drinks container, necessitating a brief medical timeout for finger taping.
In the deciding set, Djokovic secured a critical break on his fifth opportunity, establishing a 4-3 lead. The rollercoaster continued as Djokovic missed two match points while serving at 5-3, allowing Alcaraz to break back.
The climax unfolded in another tense tiebreak, ultimately sealed by Djokovic when a wide forehand return from the 20-year-old Alcaraz decided the match.
This victory marked Djokovic’s 95th career title and his 39th Masters 1000 crown.
Embracing his hard-earned trophy, Djokovic humbly commented, “I have so much to say, but I’m not sure that I have the energy.” He then turned to Alcaraz, adding with admiration, “You never give up, do you? I love that about you. I hope we meet in New York. That would be fun—for the fans, not for me.”