Impressive Nole has dug deep to clinch a record-extending 39th Masters crown.
Novak Djokovic saved championship point to down Carlos Alcaraz 5-7, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) on Sunday in Cincinnati for the 95th title of his career.
Alcaraz seemed in full control leading by a set and a break, but the 23-time Grand Slam champion turned the epic match around to win his fourth trophy in 2023.
The two stars pushed each other to the limit. One of the best matches in the ATP Masters history lasted three hours and 49 minutes.
Novak broke first, in the sixth game of the opening set, but Alcaraz responded with a double break to take it. The Belgrade native overcame a set and a break deficit, and escaped defeat in the second-set tie-break in which he saved championship point.
Although he could not keep the advantage he gained by breaking his rival in the seventh game of the deciding set, Nole found his best tennis in the crucial moments to triumph. He reigned supreme in the third set tie-break to seal the thrilling victory.
“Crazy. Honestly, I don’t know what else I can say. Tough to describe. Definitely one of the toughest matches I’ve ever played in my life, regardless what tournament, what category, what level, what player. It’s unbelievable,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “From the beginning ’til the end we’ve both been through so much, so many ups and downs, highs and lows, incredible points, poor games, heat strokes, coming back. Just overall, one of the toughest and most exciting matches I have ever been part of, and these are the kinds of moments and matches that I continue to work for day in day out. I was never in doubt that I can deliver the ‘A’ game when it mattered the most and I am just thrilled.”
Match statistics: aces (2-11), double faults (5-5), winners (19-42), unforced errors (46-50), total points won (133-128).
With his title run in Cincinnati, the Serbian star has come within 20 points of the 20-year-old Spaniard in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Djokovic is now 38-5 on the season. He has secured qualification for the season-finale Nitto ATP Finals, which he has won six times.
The tournament was Novak’s only hard-court preparation for the US Open, which begins on August 28.
It will be Nole’s 17th appearance in New York, where he lifted the trophy in 2011, 2015 and 2018.
Last year, Novak did not participate in the US Open because of vaccination status.