In an epic showdown at the ATP Cincinnati Open, Novak Djokovic showcased his tenacity and skill, ultimately triumphing in a grueling battle against Carlos Alcaraz. The match, lasting nearly four hours, was a testament to Djokovic’s determination, as he claimed his third Cincinnati Open title in a nail-biting encounter on Sunday.

The world’s top two players engaged in a titanic struggle that had spectators on the edge of their seats. Djokovic, who appeared fatigued in the second set, displayed remarkable resilience by saving a match point. It wasn’t until his fifth match point that he secured a hard-fought victory with a score of 5-7, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/4).

Djokovic said of this unusual match, “I don’t know what I can say. It’s crazy. It’s challenging to explain. The game was the hardest I’ve ever played. From beginning to end, we both experienced highs and lows, fantastic moments, poor performances, heat exhaustion, and comebacks. Overall, this was the most challenging and thrilling match I’ve ever played in. These are the kinds of matches I keep working for.

This memorable clash added another chapter to the burgeoning rivalry between the 20-year-old top-ranked Alcaraz and the 36-year-old Serbian star. Djokovic avenged his loss to the Spaniard in a five-set Wimbledon final last month, resulting in a balanced head-to-head rivalry with two wins each this year.

The match’s intensity was evident from the outset. Djokovic secured the first break of the opening set, but Alcaraz swiftly retaliated, breaking back to love for a 4-2 lead. Alcaraz eventually claimed the set and Djokovic took a seven-minute break to change his attire, visibly affected by the challenging weather conditions.

In the second set, Djokovic required the attention of a trainer and doctor due to the sweltering conditions. Alcaraz gained a 4-2 lead, even delivering a drop shot that left Djokovic unable to respond. However, Djokovic rallied, saved a match point, and forced a tie-breaker.

The gripping battle continued into the third set, with Djokovic breaking Alcaraz during a nine-minute seventh game. Despite the back-and-forth struggle, Djokovic managed to seal the match, even after failing to convert a match point at 5-4. This encounter, as noted by the ATP Tour, became the longest best-of-three-set final in tour history.

In a moment of raw emotion, Djokovic dropped to the court in relief, tore his shirt in jubilation, and released a triumphant roar. Speaking of his rivalry with Alcaraz, Djokovic remarked, “Carlos is an amazing player, I have tons of respect for him. He is incredibly composed for someone so young.”

Alcaraz’s performance in Cincinnati ensures he will retain his number-one world ranking for the upcoming week and enter the U.S. Open as the top seed, which commences on August 28.

Djokovic, who opted not to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, returned to U.S. tournaments after a two-year hiatus. His next stop is Flushing Meadows, where he is a three-time champion, setting the stage for an exciting continuation of his remarkable tennis journey.

Djokovic Triumphs in Grueling Battle