Djokovic defeats Alcaraz in dramatic Cincinnati final, wins 39th Masters title

Novak Djokovic isn’t ready to pass the torch just yet.

Djokovic rallied to beat World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz 5-7, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) in a dramatic final match to win the Western & Southern Open Masters 1000 event Sunday.

The win is some revenge for Djokovic, who lost to the 20-year-old Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final last month.

Djokovic drew first blood in the first set, breaking to go up 4-2. But Alcaraz quickly got back on serve and then seemed to take control as Djokovic laboured under the early-evening heat in Cincinnati. Alcaraz grabbed a quick 3-1 lead in the second set but Djokovic found new life after rehydrating during a break.

That set up one of the greatest deciding sets of the year.

After neither player budged to begin the third set, Djokovic found an opening in the seventh game to break and go up 4-3 after Alcaraz had saved four other break opportunities. Alcaraz saved four championship points before pulling even at 5-5 with a break of his own in a dramatic 10th game that lasted over 15 minutes.

Alcaraz then held serve to send the pressure back to Djokovic, who responded with some tricky drop shots to force a tiebreaker. Djokovic then jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak, squandered it just as quickly but then got back on track to win the match.

The win by Djokovic evens the series between tennis’s greatest winner and its biggest rising star at two victories each. Alcaraz won the first meeting in 2022 in Madrid while Djokovic eliminated the Spaniard in the French Open finals earlier this year.

Djokovic now has four titles in 2023 — including both the Australian Open and French Open majors. His win Sunday was his 39th Masters 1000 trophy and third in Cincinnati. He is the only player to win all nine Masters 1000 titles in his career, having won all nine at least twice.

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