Djokovic rallies past Raonic to win US Open tuneup title

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Top-ranked Novak Djokovic rallied to defeat Canada’s Milos Raonic 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in Saturday’s ATP Western & Southern Open final, remaining unbeaten this year only two days before his first US Open match.

The 33-year-old Serbian star won his 80th career title, improving to 23-0 in 2020 and 11-0 all-time against Raonic, while capturing his 35th ATP Masters Series crown, matching Rafael Nadal’s all-time record.

Djokovic is set to launch his quest for a fourth US Open title and 18th career Grand Slam crown against Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 107th-ranked Damir Dzumhur on Monday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The victory gives Djokovic a double career sweep of all nine ATP Masters Series titles while Raonic has gone winless in 63 Masters Series starts.

The US Open tuneup event, usually played in Cincinnati, was moved to New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic and played inside the same quarantine bubble at the National Tennis Center where the US Open will be staged.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka won the WTA title by walkover when Japan’s Naomi Osaka withdrew from the final with a left hamstring injury.

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“It’s not the way we wanted it,” said Azarenka. “It’s not easy times in the world right now but we’re here and we’re trying to do our best.”

In the third set, Raonic broke to lead 2-0 when Djokovic sent a forehand long, but Djokovic broke back at love, Raonic netting a backhand on the final point, and broke again in the fifth game, seizing a 3-2 edge when the Canadian netted a forehand.

Djokovic held serve from there to claim the crown after two hours when Raonic netted a forehand.

Raonic, who dropped his serve only twice this week before the final, took the first set on an ace after 30 minutes. Djokovic saved a break point in the second game on a service winner but Raonic broke through in the fourth game and Djokovic double faulted away another break to hand the Canadian a 5-1 lead.

In the second set, Djokovic got his first break-point chance of the match in the sixth game when Raonic sent a forehand long and capitalized with a backhand crosscourt winner to seize a 4-2 edge. Djokovic then held at love and again in the ninth game to claim the set from 0-30 when Raonic netted a forehand.

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– Azarenka revitalized –

Azarenka took her biggest victory since the 2016 Miami Open and her first since a break to become a mother.

“It has been a long time since I felt like I wanted to play and go after every point and I’m very thankful for that,” Azarenka said.

“I’ve been going through a lot of personal things. I wanted to give myself an opportunity to try. I worked really hard. I’m glad it’s paying off.”

The 31-year-old Belrussian captured the 2012 and 2013 Australian Opens and lost the same years in the US Open final.

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