Thursday, November 30, 2023

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz to meet in Cincinnati Open final, a month after their showdown at Wimbledon

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Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz set up a marquee men’s final at the Cincinnati Open while Coco Gauff shocked world No 1 Iga Swiatek in the women’s event.

​​​​Djokovic and Alcaraz beat Alexander Zverev and Hubert Hurkacz respectively to ensure a repeat of July’s Wimbledon final, which Alcaraz won in five sets to claim his second Grand Slam title and deny Djokovic a record-extending 24th.

Alcaraz survived a match point in the second set against Hurkacz as he rallied to defeat the Polish player 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 after being taken to three sets for his fourth consecutive match in Ohio.

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Djokovic, in contrast, has won each of his matches in straight sets and overcame Germany’s Zverez 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 to give himself the chance to claim the Cincinnati title for a third time, after 2018 and 2020.

The Serb said: “I’m pleased. I think there’s a few things I could’ve done better, but overall it’s a straight-sets win against a great player in form, so I’m really happy.”

Alcaraz said: “It doesn’t matter if I’m playing third sets or long matches, I’m recovering really well. I feel like I’m going to play the first match of the tournament. I feel great.”

World No 1 Alcaraz has been taken to three sets in each of his four matches in Ohio

World No 1 Alcaraz leads world No 2 Djokovic 2-1 in their head to head, with the Spaniard’s Wimbledon win last month following a three-set victory in the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters in 2022.

Djokovic’s sole success against Alcaraz to date came in the semi-finals of this year’s French Open when he triumphed in four sets at Roland-Garros en route to winning that Grand Slam.

Gauff beats Switaek for first time in her career

Coco Gauff (Associated Press)
Coco Gauff secured a first career win over Iga Swiatek to reach the women’s final in Cincinnati

The men’s final will pit the world No 1 against the world No 2 but that will not be the case in the women’s with top-ranked Swiatek and second-placed Aryna Sabalenka both eliminated in the semis.

Swiatek was beaten 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-4 by Gauff as she suffered a first defeat to her American opponent after seven previous victories in which she had even not dropped a set.

Sabalenka was later knocked out by this year’s French Open finalist Karolina Muchova, going down 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-2.

Muchova and Gauff are into their maiden WTA 1000 finals with Gauff now looking for her second title of the month after winning the Washington Open on August 6.

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