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By Chris Oddo | Saturday August 18, 2018

After slogging through two matches in one day on Friday, Roger Federer only needed a set and two games to reach his eighth career final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

The 37-year-old eased into the final when David Goffin retired with a shoulder injury in the third game of the second set, handing the Swiss a 7-6(3), 1-1 RET victory, his 46th at Cincinnati, and setting up a blockbuster final with Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic rallied for his fourth consecutive three-set win earlier on Saturday, taking down Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Djokovic needed two hours and 32 minutes to complete his victory, while Federer was on court for just 62 minutes before his opponent pulled the plug. Goffin was rumored to be carrying a shoulder issue prior to the match and he saw the trainer after dropping the first set tiebreaker to Federer.

His serve speed was down, but he was holding his own with the Swiss—which made his abrupt departure a surprise.

“Didn't make sense to continue,” Goffin explained after the final. “I was serving 100 miles per hour first serve, and then I felt my arm and my shoulder. After I lost the first set, I had to serve two more sets to win the match, so it didn't make sense to continue.”

Tennis Express

Federer didn’t face a break point and though he failed to convert his four break points he played timely tennis in the first-set breaker, which ended up being the crushing blow.

The Swiss continues his remarkable streak of 97 consecutive holds at Cincinnati—he has not been broken since the 2014 final against David Ferrer. He held in all seven service games and won 33 of 45 points on serve.

“I just think in general here in Cincinnati you've got to win the big points, you know,” Federer told reporters. “There is not that many opportunities, especially if you protect your serve well. Everything goes very quickly. I was just happy how I was able to lift my game up, you know, throughout the set, and then also in the breaker, I played a good breaker, so I was actually very happy.”

The Swiss moves on to face Djokovic for the 46th time. The pair have not met since the 2016 Australian Open semifinals when the Serb defeated Federer in four sets en route to his 11th major title.

Djokovic holds the 23-22 lifetime edge against Federer but the Swiss has won all three of their meetings in Cincinnati.

I “think what's nice about this, it's like fresh, you know,” Federer said of facing his rival for the first time in two and a half years. “It's not like we have played in the last few weeks and everybody knows what to expect.”

Federer and Djokovic have both quickly emerged as U.S. Open contenders this week in Cincinnati, with Federer playing extremely well in his first hardcourt event of the summer and Djokovic building belief with each three-set victory.

“I mean, we know how we could look like, but we're not quite sure, the fans, you guys, us, as well, to be honest,” Federer said. “A lot has happened since, you know, with injuries both of us have been fighting, and we both came back strong again. So I think that's what's nice about this time around with Novak in the match.”

Adding extra drama to the affair is the fact that Djokovic is bidding to become the first player in history to win the Career Golden Masters. If he wins Cincinnati he’ll become the first player to own all nine active Masters 1000 titles at some point of his career.

Djokovic has lost all five of his previous Cincinnati finals.

“Sixth time that I'll try to win the title, and obviously this time, you know, I'm hoping that I can get my hands on the trophy,” he said on Saturday. “I will give my best. Obviously history is also on the line, and I'm aware of that and that motivates me even more.”


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