By JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – Novak Djokovic’s nearly perfect season continues Sunday with his chance to claim an incredible 10th title of the year.
He will face Andy Murray at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, a rematch of the tournament’s final in 2008, when the Scot won in two tiebreakers.
Potentially, it could be the Serbian’s 11th Masters 1000 trophy of his career – the sixth just this season. The winner of this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon, he currently boasts 27 ATP World Tour singles titles.
In 2011, Djokovic has won an astonishing 57 matches, only losing to Roger Federer in the semifinals of the French Open, which snapped a 43-match winning streak that went all the way back to last year’s Davis Cup final.
He also is the only tennis player to beat both former No. 1s Federer and Rafael Nadal three straight times in a season.
Even Djokovic said he is surprised by the success, especially recently.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect after the run that I had up to Wimbledon and after Wimbledon,” he said. “Even before that, you know, everybody was talking when this streak will end and things like that, which is, you know, kind of expected when you’re winning that much.
“But I wasn’t paying attention on that. I was trying to stay committed. That’s something that really makes me happy. It’s very encouraging for me to be able to have this mental toughness, I guess, to overcome all these things and still perform well.”
All the competition, however, is taking a toll. Asked how he’s feeling, he answered: “To be honest, not 100 percent, definitely.”
“But I’m getting out there and trying to give my best to win every match I play,” he said. “I’m in another final. It’s a great achievement. Tomorrow, I’ll try to get another title.”
After winning the first set 7-5, Djokovic advanced to the final after his opponent, Tomáš Berdych, retired with a shoulder injury. Murray defeated top American Mardy Fish 6-3, 7-6 (8).
Djokovic said he is proud to represent his country and share his success with his countrymen.
“It’s (an) individual sport, and I understand that it’s me on the court and I win for myself in some ways, but I don’t think that I win only for myself,” he said.
“Wherever I show up, next to my name there is a Serbian flag. So that means that I represent my country, and I have to take that responsibility. Whenever I win, it’s a win for Serbia.”
James Henry is a contributing writer for OnTheGoTennis and is currently in Cincinnati covering the tournament. To follow him on Twitter click here.