Cincinnati: Novak Djokovic left it late to secure a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Marin Cilic and reach a sixth final at the ATP-WTA Cincinnati Masters on Saturday.
The Serb who has lost in five previous finals is hoping to re-write a line in the record books by becoming the first man to win titles at all of the nine Masters 1000 events.
“Hopefully I can get it done this time,” he said.
He’ll line up in Sunday’s title match against seven-time champion Roger Federer, a seven-time champion here. Second seed Federer was leading 7-6 (7/3), 1-1 when David Goffin retired with an injury from their semi-final match after 62 minutes on Saturday.
Djokovic had to work for more than two and a half hours to overcome Cilic, the 2016 champion in the hardcourt US Open tuneup event.
Djokovic only secured his defeat of Cilic late in the final set, breaking for 5-3 and finishing off the hard-fought victory in the next game.
“It’s tough, I’m very pleased to reach the final once more here,” Djokovic said.
“It was a roller-coaster match,” added the Wimbledon champion, who admitted he was distracted my loud music coming from outside the court early in the third set.
“It’s been a difficult week with rain delays and all that was happening. I’ve been down in my last three matches but I’ve come back.
“Just a few points today decided it,” added Djokovic, who saved nine of 12 break points and broke Cilic four times.
Djokovic’s victory ended a two-match win streak against the Serb for Cilic, who had lost his first 14 of their clashes.
In the women’s draw, Dutch outsider Kiki Bertens reached her third final of the season as she wore down a tiring Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
The world No. 17 defeated the two-time Wimbledon winner for the second week in a row after scoring a third-round win in Montreal.
Bertens, winner of a claycourt title in Charleston earlier this year and runner-up to Kvitova in Madrid, will fight for the title against world number one Simona Halep.
Bertens, who played and won two matches on Friday after rain interruptions this week, looked the fitter of the two players in hot, humid conditions.
“I’m feeling great, I’m so happy to win,” she said after advancing on her first match point as Kvitova slammed a forehand into the net.
“It was a tough match, but I’m so glad to be in the final.”