(Reuters) – Novak Djokovic overcame a match point and stifling heat to beat world number one Carlos Alcaraz 5-7 7-6(7) 7-6(4) and win the Cincinnati Open in a heart-pounding thriller on Sunday.
Djokovic collapsed on his back before tearing his shirt off after triumphing in the nearly four hour contest to win his third title in Cincinnati and get revenge after his loss to the Spaniard in last month’s Wimbledon final.
The Serb looked hobbled by the intense humidity in the tail end of the first set, barely moving when Alcaraz hit a backhand winner to grab the opener.
Alcaraz, who looked fresh despite being on the court for more than 10 hours this week, grabbed a 4-2 second-set lead and it appeared he might cruise to the finish line.
But Alcaraz would produce a terrible service game while leading 4-3 that included four unforced errors to give life to the world number two.
In the second-set tiebreak Djokovic saved a championship point and went on to force a deciding set after winning a 25-shot rally.
During the break before the third set, a frustrated Alcaraz pounded his hand against the plastic drinks container next to his chair, requiring a medical time out to tape his finger.
In the decider, Djokovic broke on his fifth opportunity of the game for a 4-3 lead.
The drama would continue as Djokovic squandering two match points while returning while leading 5-3.
Alcaraz would save two more match points and break serve when Djokovic missed an overhead for 5-5.
The players ultimately arrived at another tiebreak, which Djokovic won when the 20-year-old’s forehand return went wide.
The win was Djokovic’s 95th career title and 39th Masters 1000 crown.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Stephen Coates)
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