Novak Djokovic finally clinched the title missing from his resume with a 6-4 6-4 win over Roger Federer on Sunday to win in Cincinnati and become the first player to complete the sweep of Masters series tournaments.
Having made five previous finals and losing to Federer in three of them, Djokovic finally broke the ice to continue his stunning revival after a long comeback from elbow surgery.
The Wimbledon champion is the first to claim the Career Golden Masters, having won all nine titles in the elite series that began in 1990.
“Obviously it’s a very special moment to stand here for the first time with the winning trophy,” Djokovic said after defeating seven-times Cincinnati champion Federer.
“The hard times I went through, it’s been a rollercoaster ride in my career with injury, taking time off and having a surgery earlier this year.
“This seems a bit unreal to be back at this level and winning Wimbledon and obviously Cincinnati for the first time.”
Djokovic has won his last three matches against Federer and now holds a 24-22 advantage in their long rivalry.
The world number 10 is set to improve to sixth in the rankings and he will head to the U.S. Open later this month highly favoured to win a third crown at Flushing Meadows.
Meeting Federer for the first in more than two years, Djokovic’s returning and dogged defence rattled the Swiss, whose serve had been impregnable throughout the tournament.
He broke Federer to lead 4-3, snapping his streak of 100 successive holds in Cincinnati.
Federer rallied early in the second set, breaking Djokovic to lead 2-0 but the Serb broke back and earned the decisive break for 4-3, curling a forehand pass down the line.
Federer sent a forehand wide on the first match point, and racked up 39 unforced errors while struggling to penetrate Djokovic’s second serve.
“Thank you for letting me win once in Cincinnati,” Djokovic said to Federer.
“Obviously it was a tough match for him today, he probably didn’t feel his best, but he is a great champion and probably the best ever to play the game.”
Federer was full of praise for Djokovic.
“Congratulations Novak on writing history today,” the Swiss said. “It’s an amazing effort not just today but your whole career to get to this point. It’s an amazing achievement. You should be very proud.”