Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will write another chapter in their storied rivalry when the meet in the final of the Western & Southern Open, in a match that pits the two legends against one another for the first time in two years, due mostly to injuries.
Djokovic defeated Marin Cilic on Saturday 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and Federer topped David Goffin when Goffin retired in the second set with a shoulder injury.
Djokovic leads Federer in head-to-head title matches 11-6, and their overall series 23-22.
“It would be the greatest challenge in Cincinnati, without a doubt, because he’s been dominating this tournament historically,” Djokovic said.
“It’s great to be back in the finals, against Novak in particular,” Federer said. “There’s a lot riding on the match. It’s great to refresh a rivalry we’ve had for many years.”
Djokovic will be vying to become the first to win all nine events since the series started back in 1990.
“My sixth time, I’ll try to win the title,” he said. “Obviously, this time I’m hoping I get my hands on the trophy.”
Tiger Woods Delays Surgery to Play, Says Recovery Ahead of Schedule
Tiger Woods put off surgery on his left knee to repair minor cartilage last fall and opted instead to have it this past August so that he could continue to play, but admitted the knee had been bothering him most of the 2019 year.
“It just kind of deteriorated over the year,” Woods said on Monday, according to ESPN’s Bob Harig. “It’s one of the reasons we were planning on doing it last year. But I screwed up by winning the Tour Championship [in September 2018], and I thought I could keep it rolling.
“It affected the way my back was feeling and my practice schedule. I’ve been down this road. That was my fifth [knee] operation. It’s been nice to have it moving again and not have it catch and lock up. A lot of wear and tear over the year. It’s been stressed out for a very long time, and it was nice having it cleaned up.”
Woods added that he is ahead of schedule in his recovery, saying that he had planned to have the procedure in the days following the Tour Championship, which he did not qualify for; “Instead I had it the week of the Tour Championship,” Woods commented. “The whole idea was to be ready for this event, the Hero World Challenge and possibly Australia.”
“The way I was feeling toward the middle part of the year, it was going to be a tall order to do it all. I was struggling waking, it affected my back, reading putts. I’m excited about having this end-of-the-year run. Feeling much more fit. I don’t have the achiness I had the last couple of years.”
“I want to be fit and ready for the end of the year,” Woods said. “Been battling through this year. Nice to get over the hump and start feeling good again and go at it full speed.”
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Rory McIlroy Agrees with Brooks Koepka in Regards to Rivalry
Rory McIlroy agrees with Brooks Koepka that the two were not true rivals despite some commentary to the contrary.
McIlroy, 30, was asked about Koepka’s comments Monday afternoon during the broadcast of The Challenge: Japan Skins, saying that Koepka had a point in his comments.
“What Brooks said wasn’t wrong,” McIlroy said, according to ESPN’s Bob Harig.
“He’s been the best player in the world for the last couple of years. Four majors. Don’t think he had to remind me that I haven’t won one in a while. I love Brooks. He’s a great guy. He’s super competitive like we all are. I see where he’s coming from.”
Ahead of last week’s CJ Cup in South Korea , Koepka was asked about the rivalry by the Agency French Press, and had some noteworthy comments.
“I’ve been out here for — what? — five years,” Koepka said in response. “Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. So I just don’t view it as a rivalry. I’m No. 1 in the world. I’ve got an open road ahead of me. I’m not looking in the rear-view mirror, so I’m not seeing it as a rivalry.”
“I said a couple of things after the Tour Championship as I approached the final round as a little bit of a rivalry because he got one over on me in Memphis,” McIlroy said. “And I sort of wanted to get him back. I think it’s good for the game. I think if you take what Brooks said out of context, it can become this big thing that it’s become.
“But Brooks and I are good friends. I’ve been really happy for him to see how he’s played over the last couple of years.”
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Tiger Woods Finishes Second to Jason Day
The Challenge: Japan Skins saw Jason Day walk off with over $200,000 and the victory, while Tiger Woods finished second.
“He hasn’t won one yet, so I’ve got that on him, which is good,” Day said of Woods, according to ESPN’s Bob Harig. “I found that out today when he told me. But this is nice, the back and forth was great, it was nice and clean and it was within the game, and I think the guys had fun out there.”
The Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club hosted the event that also featured Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama, among many others.
GolfTV, in a sponsorship deal with Woods, streamed the event worldwide.
“I did not play well at the beginning,” Woods said. “I hit a lot of bad shots and did not putt well. Once I got into the flow of competing and feeling the round, it just got exciting. We were competitive, the banter was great, the back and forth.”
“It was just great to be part of something like this,” McIlroy said. “It was a fun way to kick off the week.”
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