Federer slams Djokovic; Li Na ends title drought

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Federer slams Djokovic; Li Na ends title drought

MASON, Ohio - Roger Federer finds a lot to like about Cincinnati - the big crowds for his matches, the quiet time away from the court, the way his game seems to come together on the fast, blue courts.

And it probably helps that he often takes home the trophy, too.

Make it five for Federer.

The world’s top-ranked player won a record fifth Cincinnati title Sunday, dominating second-ranked Novak Djokovic in an unprecedented way at the start of a 6-0, 7-6 (7) win for the Western & Southern Open championship.

The 31-year-old Swiss star has enjoyed many of his one-week visits. None was better than the latest.

“Looking back, it’s just unbelievable,’’ Federer said. “This was probably the best week for me here in Cincinnati. I didn’t lose a set. This is very sweet, no doubt about it.’’

Ranked No. 1 and No. 2, perhaps, but worlds apart on this day.

Federer won the first set in 20 minutes, allowing Djokovic just 10 points. It was the first time in their 28 career matches that one of them took a set 6-0. For perspective, Federer hadn’t beaten anybody 6-0 in a tournament final since 2007.

Both players seemed a bit stunned.

“I was hoping for a good start, but not like that,’’ Federer said.

Perhaps Djokovic’s schedule had something to do with it. After the Olympics, he went to Toronto and won the Rogers Cup last Sunday. He didn’t expect to make it to a second final in eight days.

“It was a final today, so I really wanted to win,’’ Djokovic said. “There is no question about it. Maybe playing a couple weeks in a row, four weeks in a row, got to me maybe mentally. Physically it didn’t. I felt OK on the court.’’

Federer improved to 5-0 in Cincinnati finals and tied Rafael Nadal for the most Masters titles with 21. Nadal dropped out of the tournament with a sore knee that has sidelined him indefinitely.

The loss snapped Djokovic’s streak of 15 straight wins on hard courts, an encouraging sign heading into the Open. He figured the only thing lacking for New York was a little rest.

“I feel good on the court,’’ Djokovic said. “The conditions here are quite different from the U.S. Open. It’s a bit slower there, which I think goes in my favor a little bit more. More suitable to my style of the game.

“I’m going to have a week that I think is very necessary for me right now mentally and physically.’’

In women’s events, China’s Li Na overcame an awful first set to win her first title of the season on Sunday, beating Germany’s Angelique Kerber 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the final of the Western & Southern Open.

For Li, it was her first title since her breakthrough season in 2011, when she won at Sydney and the French Open. Three times this season, she had made it to the final of a tournament. All three times, she lost in three sets.

“So I was really hungry for the title,’’ she said.

The final featured players who knocked the Williams sisters out of an already depleted tournament. Defending champion Maria Sharapova dropped out before the start because of a stomach illness.

Kerber and Li gave the tournament two of its twists.

Kerber, ranked No. 7 in the world, ended Serena Williams’ 19-match winning streak in the quarterfinals Friday. She followed that by winning a three-set match in the semifinals, but and was struggling to keep up by the second set on Sunday.

Li beat Venus Williams in a three-set semifinal Saturday night, sending her to the title match after a very trying week. The ninth-ranked Li ended up with the most challenging weekend of the tournament.

Her match on Thursday night was postponed by rain, forcing her to play two matches on Friday less than seven hours apart.

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