Roger Federer collected a fourth Cincinnati Masters title on Sunday as the world number two thrust himself front and centre as a repeat US Open threat with a 6-7, (5-7), 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 comeback defeat of Mardy Fish.
The victory came as the Swiss world number two played for the second consecutive week in a final after losing in Toronto to Andy Murray seven days ago.
“It’s nice knowing that the hard work already in the off season after Wimbledon pays off right away,” said Federer, now with 63 career titles.
“I came close a couple times earlier in the season. I should have won Halle (in June), I could have won Madrid (in May), but things didn’t really work my way. I was maybe playing a little bit too passive. Now I’m taking it more to the opponents again.
“I’m happy that that’s the right game plan right now.”
The success was the second of the season for Federer, whose last title came at the Australian Open over Murray.
Against Fish, four-time Cincinnati champion Federer produced 45 winners, including 11 aces in the struggle lasting more than two and a half hours.
Federer served out the victory a game after earning the only break of the match to lead 5-4 in the final set. Fish, the number 36 with two titles this summer, saved a first match point but could only swung wide on a second to end the contest.
“I feel great, obviously, I’ve done some things that I’ve never done before,” said the losing finalist. “I’ll be able to put this match in perspective very shortly.
“I played well today, he played well today. It was a pretty high level, I thought, for the most part. In two matches he’s only broken me one time in five sets.”
Fish won their last match, at Indian Wells two years ago.
Federer stands 2-3 in finals this year after playing in his 90th career ATP level final (63-27). The Swiss moves alongside Andre Agassi on 17 career Masters 1000 titles, one fewer than Rafael Nadal.
The focus now shifts to the US Open, starting a week from Monday.
“It’s going to be interesting,” said Federer. “Many guys are playing well again.
“Murray didn’t win a tournament for a long time, and he’s been able to win Toronto again. So that definitely puts him as one of the favorites as well.
“The top four have the best shot again, naturally. We can all play really well on the hardcourts.”
Federer won Cincinnati in 2005, 2007 and last season. He joins Mats Wilander (1983-84, 1986, 1988) as the only players in the post-1968 Open era to win four titles at the event.