The win over Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati is the first Masters title for Roger Federer in 2015, but it says nothing about his ability to finally win the US Open again, despite the proximity in date and conditions.
Federer has won three smaller tournaments prior to his success in Cincinnati, including a 7-6,6-3 win over Djokovic in the final and not dropping a single set during the week. The fact that he beat Andy Murray and Djokovic in back to back matches is very encouraging as he tries to make his Grand Slam final of the year.
The last time Federer won the US Open it was 2008, and it came as something of a consolation prize following his rough losses to Rafael Nadal in Paris and Wimbledon. He didn’t win in Cincinnati that year, losing in the third round to Ivo Karlovic, a player he usually deals with rather easily despite that scary serve of his.
While winning in Cincinnati says something about your hard court form at the moment, and winning against Djokovic in a match the world’s number one really wanted to win in order to finally get that ninth Masters tournament trophy to flaunt with at home says something about how good Federer is heading into Flushing Meadows. But a favorite? Not now, not when it’s a tournament of winning three out of five sets.
The straight sets win in Cincinnati came after three consecutive losses to Djokovic (Indian Wells, Italy and Wimbledon), his first since Dubai earlier this year. In a major, Federer hasn’t beaten Djokovic since the 2012 Wimbledon tournament, stunning him in the semifinal, en route to winning his 17th Grand Slam championship and 7th Wimbledon crown.
In 2009 he was close to making it a three-slam year for the fourth time in his career until Juan Martin Del Potro showed up, on the way making Federer very angry. Since that loss to the Argentine, Federer hasn’t even been to the final in Queens. In 2010 he lost to Djokovic in the semifinal in five sets, and the same thing happened in 2011 despite a 2-0 lead. He missed the final four in 2012 and 2013, but made the semifinal once more last year, losing in straight sets to Marin Cilic. In 2014, 2012, 2010 and 2009 Federer headed into the US Open as the Cincinnati champion.
Every achievement Federer manages to add to his endless list is incredible considering his age and how dominant he remains, even against Djokovic at times. And while he’s better than the rest of the field on most days, Djokovic is still better than him overall at this point of their careers, especially when you factor in fitness and the ability to withstand two weeks of playing the-best-of-five matches.
But maybe the rest through training in Switzerland Federer has put himself through since the loss on grass in London did him a world of good. He looked unstoppable in Cincinnati, not broken a single time, and it’s going to be his serve which makes the difference in the 2015 US Open, and whether or not he can end his grand slam drought that has been going on for three years, or seven years in regards to the US Open.