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Refreshed Federer ready to defend Cincinnati Masters crown

19 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Refreshed Federer ready to defend Cincinnati Masters crown

Rather than worry about his world ranking, the 34-year-old's only focus will be winning this week's Masters 1000 event in Ohio

Roger Federer took an extended post-Wimbledon break in order to be in peak physical condition for the US Open later this month.

In skipping last week’s Montreal Masters, however, Federer surrendered his position as world No. 2 to Andy Murray, who won his second 1000-point title of the season by defeating Novak Djokovic.

It was a calculated gamble from the recently-turned 34-year-old, who now has to carefully choose the tournaments he plays in order to remain fresh for the game’s biggest events.

But rather than fret about the permutations of who he might meet at Flushing Meadows and at what stage – if the rankings remain the same, he would be likely to face both Murray and Djokovic – the single-minded Federer’s only focus will be on perfecting his own game.

That is certainly the case for this week’s Cincinnati Masters, where he returns to action for the first time since SW19 at a tournament where he is the defending champion.

Speaking to the media upon arriving in Ohio, the 17-time Grand Slam winner revealed his belief that he is a better player than in 2005 – a year when he won two of tennis’ major prizes.

“I’ve practised for another 10 years and I’ve got 10 years more experience,” he told the ATP World Tour website.

“I feel like I hit a bigger serve. My backhand is better, my forehand is still as good as it’s ever been [and] I volley better than I have in the past.”

Federer’s admission is a remarkable one.

It is also probably true, even if he has won only one slam – Wimbledon in 2012 – during the last five years.

The trouble for him is that, having raised the overall standard of the sport in the mid-2000s, he now has to compete with the players he inspired to be as good as him.

In the case of Djokovic, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Swiss master has been surpassed.

The Serbian suffered his first Masters loss of the season against Murray – a remarkable statistic in itself – and is a four-time finalist in Cincinnati.

And while there is not much in tennis that he is yet to achieve, the tournament this week is the only 1000-pointer he is yet to win.

Djokovic will be eager to put that right this week and is 6/5 to do so, although the elbow injury that seemed to trouble him in Canada could hinder his chances.

And then there’s Murray, who achieved his joint-highest position in the rankings having reached the same position in 2009 and 2013 – after sealing his fourth ATP title of the year.

The emotional and physical energy expended in defeating Djokovic on Sunday – it was the first time the Scot had beaten his great rival in more than two years – makes a second consecutive triumph unlikely, although he is 7/2 to double up.

Yet having won his first hardcourt title on US soil for three years, a run to, say, the semis would represent a good week’s work for Murray before he sets off for New York. He would also gain ranking points, having been knocked out in the quarter-finals 12 months ago.

Federer was the man who beat him en route to claiming his sixth win in Cincinnati.

The joint-second favourite at 7/2 – who is well rested and buoyant after playing some of the best tennis of his career at Wimbledon – is likely to be the man to beat once again.

Cincinnati Masters betting

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