MASON, Ohio -- Roger Federer captured his sixth title at the Western & Southern Open, defeating David Ferrer 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 in Sunday's final. The win was his third and biggest title of the 2014 season and his first ATP Masters 1000 title in exactly two years, his last coming in Cincinnati in 2012. He also extended his dominant head-to-head record against Ferrer to 16-0.
Federer's U.S. Open preparation went from good to great: After making the Rogers Cup final last week Federer considered withdrawing from Cincinnati to rest his body.
"In practice I felt like I was recovering quickly, and [I decided to] give to a go," Federer said. "Play with less pressure, more with the confidence, and you never know how you end up feeling midway through the week." On paper his draw was a tough one, having to go through Gael Monfils, Andy Murray, and Milos Raonic to get to the final. His toughest match would come from Monfils, who took him to 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in a physically grueling third round match. While his body may have been feeling the matches from Toronto he could almost always count on his serve to bail him out this week.
"I'm very happy about the week," Federer said. "Just overall it went from good to great. Just really pleased that I was able to back up a tough week last week already."
Federer looked locked in for a straight-set win on Sunday, cruising to a 6-3 first set in a quick 30 minutes. His serving slipped in the second set from 60 percent to 52 percent and he won just a little over half the points on his first serve and just a third on his second serve. Ferrer raced away with the set to even the match and it looked like it might be more of the same for Federer's record in finals this year, which has seen him make seven finals and win just two.
But Federer cleaned up his game in the final set, serving at 84 percent and losing just one point on his first serve to win the match in an hour and 42 minutes. He finished the match with 33 winners and 28 unforced errors. Ferrer hit 29 winners and 20 unforced errors.
Federer heads into the U.S. Open with peace of mind: Everything seemed to be working for Federer in Cincinnati. The aggressive net-play paid off. He came to the net 37 times in the final and converted 23 chances. He was solid on the baseline and his serving was clutch. His Toronto final already gave him confidence going into the U.S. Open. The Cincinnati title gave him even more. "I can really rest now, rather than having to work on stuff," Federer said. "So it's just about maintaining. That's also really good for the mind. I can just enjoy New York for what it is and go out to the practice courts and do the opposite of what I had to do last year. Last year I went out there and did three-hour practice sessions and went for extra practice sessions after matches sometimes. That I don't have to do. I know my game is where I want it to be. It's about just keeping that level up right now."
The U.S. Open lead-ups have left more questions than answers: No. 1 Novak Djokovic won just one match in two tournaments. U.S. Open defending champion and No. 2 Rafael Nadal didn't play due to a wrist injury. No. 4 Stan Wawrinka lost to Kevin Anderson and Julien Benneteau and Andy Murray can't stop "messing up" matches, this week botching a 4-1 double-break lead in the second set against Federer. As of now the U.S. Open feels more wide open than it's been in some time. And Federer has shown all signs that he's ready to take advantage if the draw falls apart.