Roger Federer and Mardy Fish squared off in the final of the Cincinnati Masters.


The Setting
 

Even though he won his 16thGrand Slam title to start the 2010 season at the Australian Open, Roger Federer’s form and results were somewhat surprising at the next two majors. In Paris, where he was the defending champion, he fell in the quarterfinals to the player he beat in the 2009 final, Robin Soderling, with the loss ending his six-year streak of reaching at least the semifinals at the Slams. Then, at Wimbledon, Tomas Berdych stopped him in the quarterfinals, sending his ranking down to No. 3, his lowest in nearly seven years.

Kicking off the hard-court season in Canada, Federer reached the final there, then moved on to the next Masters 1000 event on the calendar in Cincinnati. After a bye in the first round, Federer didn’t play a full match until the quarterfinals after a retirement and walkover in the second and third rounds, respectively. He won both of his next two matches to reach the final against one of the hottest players on tour.

Mardy Fish, who received a wild card to play in the event, had been on a tear that summer, and the 2003 Cincinnati finalist’s run of form continued at this tournament. Every player he defeated on his way to the final had been or were currently in the top 10, including his semifinal opponent, ninth-seeded Andy Roddick, his good friend who topped him in that 2003 title match.


The Final
 

It had been more than two years since Federer and Fish faced off, but back when they did meet last—in 2008 in Indian Wells—the American routed Federer in straight sets, beating him for the first time. Coming into the final with that memory, along with knowing that he’d been playing top-level tennis for months, Fish fended off a set point from Federer and went on to take the opener in a tiebreak.

In the second, the pattern of neither player being able to break the other’s serve continued and like the first, a tiebreak would determine the outcome. In this mini-frame, Federer dominated, taking the breaker 7-1 to level the match and send the championship bout into a decider.

Through the first eight games of the final set, it appeared another tiebreaker was inevitable. However, as he tried to serve for a 5-4 lead, Fish was broken, missing an easy forehand to give Federer the advantage. The Swiss then served out the match with an easy hold, allowing him to defend his title and notch his first tournament victory since the Australian Open in January.

Notable Numbers
 

6

Federer clinched at least one of the three major summer hard-court titles—Canada, Cincinnati or the US Open—for the sixth straight year. 

14

Federer became the first player in 14 years to defend his title in Cincinnati, the last being Andre Agassi in 1996.

16

Over a four-tournament span after Wimbledon, Fish posted a 16-2 record, winning titles in Newport and Atlanta, and reaching the final in Cincinnati. 

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