Toronto, ON –Novak Djokovich just joined Andre Agassi as a three-time Rogers Cup champion.
He still trails six-time champ Czechoslovakian legend Ivan Lendl, but he is young and on track to one day, maybe, approach the distant success of Lendl. It showed after a solid 6-3, 6-2, finale performance over French Richard Gasquet.
It was Djokovic’s 12th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, but in order for him to seal the prestige, he faced his own obstacles; he had to tweak a thing or two from of his game, he said.
“I’ve been working on the efficiency of my first and second serve, but also trying to be more aggressive in the first ball,” Djokovic said. “I’m not one of the biggest servers in the game, that’s for sure, but I always try to focus on obviously the second shot after the serve.”
It was a trial and error process for Djokovic and it took some time before it settled in, considering at first, the match seemed to grow into a tight affair.
“The opening couple of games of the first set were quite close,” he said about the first set at 3-3. “I wasn’t trying to force my first serve speed-wise too much… I was really aggressive coming to the net, so I’ve achieved what I planned to do tactic-wise before the match.”
The biggest scare was the thought of another rain delay, which can always ruin a player’s momentum and carve a bumpier road to the prize.
“The rain delays and interruptions weren’t making my life easier, that’s for sure, but I was really committed to do anything in my power that will make me more ready.”
It also didn’t help that Djokovic just rode an emotional roller coaster after losing the Bronze medal game to Argentinian Juan Martin del Porto.
“The losses in the Olympic Games were more difficult for me emotionally than Wimbledon, but I still played some great matches,” Djokovic explained. “The two losses that I had in three days in Olympic Games gave me more desire to come here and perform my best and try to win a title.”
Instead, it inspired the second world ranked player.
“So it’s actually a huge confidence boost for me. I haven’t won a title since Miami and played lots of finals. This is a great hard court season start.”
This was one title Djokovic fought for and needed, considering is recent drought. It definitely helped that the other three top four adversaries dropped out of the tourney.
But, missing Andy Murray, Roger Federer, or Rafael Nadal didn’t lessen any pressure for Djokovic he said. He prefers the pressure, it’s a good sign about his own play.
“Look, pressure is always present. Pressure is a privilege in a way. It’s a challenge. When you have pressure, that means that you’ve done something in your life that matters… it’s normal.”
Surely, more pressure will arise with the U.S. Open creeping up.
In turn, he looked more comfortable on the hard court and adjusting to the hard court season is exactly what he needed before the next stretch.
Gasquet, Rogers Cup’s 14th seed and the man with a slamming backhand, was not slouch himself. He beat three higher ranked players to reach the finals; No. 4 Tomas Berdych, No. 11 Mardy Fish, and No. 8 John Isner.
When it came to top dog, the Frenchman just couldn’t do it anymore.
Gasquet, in his third career ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, lost the first game, but retaliated with winning the next. It was a back and forth match until they tied 3-3, with long rallies through the promising matchup.
Soon after, Djokovic heated up after smashing the ball with his forearm and pumping his fist for the 4-3 break. It was the sign of fatal mortality –for his opponent that is.
Not long after, Gasquet ran out of gas as Djokovic ended the first set with a thunderous ace.
After, the story wrote itself as he finished the game in only one minute above an hour.
“I had a very bad game at 4-3, and it made the difference,” Gasquet said about the finale. “After he took confidence, and me, my level was down. Then when you are losing to a guy like him, it’s very difficult to come back… I want to play better, but I tried my best.”
For Djokovic, expect him to return to the Rogers Cup, next year in Montreal, to defend his title for a second time.
“I will be coming back definitely. It’s one of my favourtite events… I love playing in Canada. Just very glad to be winning this trophy.”
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