Novak Djokovic is one win from completing an unprecedented second Career Golden Masters. Will former World No. 3 Milos Raonic be able to stop him?
That’s the big question heading into the Western & Southern Open final, which will decide the first ATP Tour champion since play was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Djokovic became the first player to win all nine ATP Masters 1000 titles two years ago in Cincinnati, and he will try to complete the feat for a second time on Saturday.
The Career Golden Masters is an incredible achievement, showing mastery at the highest level on both hard and clay, outdoors and indoors (Paris). Nobody else has accomplished it once, and the Serbian is on the verge of duplicating his feat. If Djokovic wins, he will also tie Rafael Nadal for the most Masters 1000 titles with 35.
Djokovic’s Masters 1000 Titles By Tournament
|Indian Wells, Paris||5|
|Rome, Canada, Shanghai||4|
Most Masters 1000 Titles
The World No. 1 will take confidence knowing he leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 10-0. But the Serbian knows he will need to bring his best at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“[He has a] huge serve,” Djokovic said of Raonic, who has hit a tournament-leading 88 aces. “He’s playing well, he’s confident and let’s hope for a good final.”
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Djokovic needed three hours and one minute on Friday (the longest match of the tournament) against rock-solid Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the final. The Serbian will have to quickly adjust his game against Raonic, though.
The Canadian will not grind through long baseline rallies like Bautista Agut did. He will attempt to overpower the top seed with his massive serve and attack the first ball of each rally. That will make the serve and return critical. Raonic has won 55 of his 57 service games this week (96%) and he leads the tournament in first-serve points won (86%).
Most Different Masters 1000 Titles
*Includes ATP Masters 1000 Hamburg
The World No. 30 will try to make history of his own, as he can become the first Canadian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title. The 29-year-old, who hasn’t tasted ATP Tour glory since 2016 Brisbane, is into his fourth championship match at this level. He will try to become the first unseeded player to lift the trophy in the Open Era (0-11).
“I’m playing well. I think I’m moving much better than I definitely have in recent years. Maybe it’s been a long time [off], and I think that’s putting me in a better position so I’m able to be more effective and more aggressive earlier [in rallies],” Raonic said. “I’m able to play more on my terms and quicker on in the points.”
Most Masters 1000 Finals
Although Raonic didn’t say so during his post-match press conference, the better match-up for him would have been against Bautista Agut. The Canadian has won all five of his ATP Head2Head matches against the Spaniard, whereas Djokovic has clinched eight of his 10 clashes against Raonic in straight sets.
Djokovic has been suffocating on return this event, winning 41 per cent of his return games to lead all players. His quarter-final opponent, Jan-Lennard Struff, is closer to Raonic’s playing style than Bautista Agut. Djokovic broke the big-hitting German five times, neutralising all of his attacks in a 62-minute victory.
Most Masters 1000 Wins
The top seed is trying to become the first World No. 1 to win the Western & Southern Open since Roger Federer beat him in 2012. But Raonic is playing tennis reminiscent of his days inside the Top 5. Will that be enough?
Did You Know?
Djokovic is appearing in his seventh Western & Souther Open final (1-5), which is tied for the second-most in tournament history with Bill Talbert. Only Roger Federer (8) has reached more championship matches at this event.
– Statistical assistance provided by Joshua Rey