Novak Djokovic has become the first player in the 28-year history of ATP World Tour Masters 1000s to win all nine elite tournaments and complete the career Golden Masters by winning his first title, in his sixth final, at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Sunday.
They are some of the sport’s hardest events to win, forcing players to test their skills in varying weather conditions against the very best in the ATP Rankings right from the first round, from the heat and humidity of the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open presented by Itau in March through to the controlled indoor conditions of the Rolex Paris Masters in November. “A complete arsenal and the absence of a weakness is integral to completing the [ATP World Tour] Masters 1000 sweep,” said Justin Gimelstob. In the 258 tournaments since the elite level of ATP World Tour tournaments were created for the start of the 1990 season, no player has managed to win at all nine Masters 1000 tournaments to complete a career Golden Masters. Until now.
Since Djokovic broke Rafael Nadal’s 46-match winning streak at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, for his first trophy in Monaco in April 2013, the Serbian star had three times headed to Mason, Ohio for the Western & Southern Open, on the cusp of sporting history. “It’s always been at the back of my mind, adding extra pressure, but also motivation, as it’s what you work for,” admitted Djokovic, who has a 323-72 match wins record and 31 titles at Masters 1000 tournaments.
Five years ago, upon Djokovic’s first shot at the career Golden Masters in Cincinnati, he lost to John Isner 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-5 in the quarter-finals. The following year, he fell to an inspired Tommy Robredo 7-6(6), 7-5 in the 2014 third round and Roger Federer beat Djokovic 7-6(1), 6-3 in the 2015 final, which marked his fifth runner-up finish (also 2008-09, 2011-12). Injuries to his left wrist and right elbow, respectively, saw him miss the 2016 and 2017 editions, but this season Djokovic hit North American soil in form on the back of lifting his fourth trophy at The Championships, Wimbledon.
Adverse weather conditions in Cincinnati, compressed the order of play this week, forcing Djokovic to win four matches in three days for arguably the most significant Masters 1000 crown of his illustrious career. By comparison, 27-time Masters 1000 titlist Federer has Monte-Carlo and the Internazionali BNL d’Italia missing from his resume of the current nine Masters 1000 tournaments. Fourteen-time winner Andy Murray has yet to win in Indian Wells and Monte-Carlo, while record-holding 33-time champion Nadal has not sunk his teeth into the Miami, Rolex Shanghai Masters and Paris trophies. Andre Agassi, whose career spanned three decades, won seven of the then nine Masters 1000 tournaments prior to his retirement in September 2006.
During the height of his consistency, between November 2014 and March 2016, the 31-year-old Djokovic compiled a 56-2 record at Masters 1000 tournaments, winning nine trophies from 11 straight finals. Today, on his 12th attempt for the Cincinnati trophy, a heavy weight lifted from his shoulders in becoming the first player to capture all nine of the ATP World Tour’s elite events.
DJOKOVIC’S RECORD AT ATP WORLD TOUR MASTERS 1000 TOURNAMENTS