Watching Roger Federer produce his most proficient tennis can be as cultured as attending an opera at times, and that was the case as he strode to his 80th singles title on Sunday.
The world number three has got his swagger back, and he hit 32 winners on the way to beating Spain’s David Ferrer 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 in the final of the Cincinnati Masters, and he clinched the title in Ohio for the sixth time.
Occasions such as this were previously sideshows to his year, particularly in the period where he won 12 Grand Slams between 2004 and 2008, but seeing him win his 22nd ATP Masters 1000 title is now a stepping stone back to his top level.
The Swiss has won more matches than any other player in the 24-year history of the Masters Series, and he completed his 300th Masters Series win when beating Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in the second round on Wednesday, while he rarely looked like being beaten at the tournament.
That trend continued at the start of the match, as he broke in the eighth game, before saving four break points in the next game on the way to serving out for the set, showing the kind of resilience that saw him battle back from a double break down in the second set of his semi-final win over Britain’s Andy Murray.
Having his serve broken twice in the second set shows that he has not found the perfection that he was once known for, as Ferrer saved four break points himself in the first game before going on to storm through just the fifth set he has won against Federer in 16 matches.
But two breaks of serve from Federer in the deciding set saw him wrap up the win in one hour and 42 minutes to claim his third title of the year, and he remains unbeaten against Ferrer, leading their head-to-head record 16-0.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner praised his performance, and he said after the match: "I really thought I was feeling better again towards the end of the second set, like he felt better at the end of the first.
"I carried that over into the third and served great and was able to come up with some really good plays. Just overall I think I played a great match at the end."
Despite the continued frustration of coming unstuck against Federer, Ferrer can take great encouragement from the last week, and while he only beat one seeded player in 16th seed Tommy Robredo en route to the final, he has shown a clinical streak that sets him in good stead for the US Open.
US Open chances
When taking into account a recent snag in form for world number one Novak Djokovic, who has not made the quarter-finals in the last two Masters Series events, coupled with Spaniard Rafael Nadal’s battle with a wrist injury, Federer will be close to being the favourite to win a sixth US Open title in September.
There is a belief that at 33, he may not be able to last in a long distance match against a top player, and he still has the odd poor performance in him, as showed with a five set loss to Latvian Ernests Gulbis in the fourth round at the French Open in June.
But if he performs in the manner that he has been doing under Swedish coach Stefan Edberg, who has revitalised his game this year by leading him to his first Grand Slam final in two years at Wimbledon, then there is every chance that he could stretch his record number of Grand Slam wins to 18 in New York.