In the tournament that marked the restart of the men's circuit, the Western and Southern Open, exceptionally located in Flushing Meadows, world number one Novak Djokovic made no particular changes to the plot. He had to win and he did.
Fresh from the tiring comeback against Roberto Bautista Agut, the seventeen-time Grand Slam champion also allowed himself a long break in the first set against Milos Raonic. Player who in the previous ten had just won two halves.
Nole, with a single stroke, reaches 23 consecutive wins this season, adds the 35th title to his career ATP Masters 1000 collection, equaling Rafael Nadal's record, but above all completes the Career Golden Masters for the second time.
No one had ever won all the tournaments in this category, let alone twice. It ends 1-6 6-3 6-4 with the final thrill, at the stroke of two hours of play.
Raonic dominates the first set, Djokovic wins at distance
The world number one, who struggles to find automatisms from the baseline and to become dangerous in response, stains the fourth game with two unforced errors and two double faults.
With a 3-1 advantage to keep, fairly large given the circumstances, the Canadian instead applies the service-forehand scheme to perfection. Djokovic, short of ideas and apparently also of motivation, strengthens the balance of errors in the sixth game with a reckless short ball and a double foul.
The fifth. Raonic, who also puts a splendid backhand in the middle of the line, strengthens the advantage and puts his head forward at the first useful opportunity. Djokovic does not make any particular changes to the tactical plan (the material available is not too much) but at least reduces the number of unforced errors.
Raonic, on the other hand, lacks clarity in tactical choices and above all concedes something with the second ball. The equation is simple, the break in the sixth game the most obvious result. The dynamics of the challenge completely change in the third.
Djokovic, who condenses the vast majority of the difficulties at the start, forcefully re-establishes the hierarchies. Find efficiency with the second ball, continuity with the response, especially freedom in lateral movements.
Needless to say the necessary advantage with a mega-partial of 4-0 and in the last two rounds of batting he asserts the status of number one. Even if just one step from the finish line he finds himself canceling a ball for the counter-break.
In the almost surreal silence of Louis Armstrong Stadium only for semi-finals and finals, the voice of the Serbian champion echoes on the day of the final for the second time.