|Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory against Mardy Fish during the Rogers Cup final in Montreal, Que., Aug. 14, 2011. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI Agency)
MONTREAL - It was his toughest match of the tournament, but the result was the same.
Novak Djokovic made tennis history Sunday as the first man ever to win five consecutive World Tour Masters 1000 titles with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory over American Mardy Fish at the $2.4 million Rogers Cup.
Playing in his first tournament as the world's No. 1 player, Djokovic broke Fish three times and shook off a second-set surge by the Minnesotan to finish the match in an entertaining two hours and 23 minutes.
The first set turned in the sixth game when Djokovic broke Fish as the American tried to come to the net, a tactic that had been successful for him earlier in the set. But his forehand fell short and Djokovic went up 4-2. Djokovic then broke Fish again to take the set 6-2.
Fish rebounded decisively in the second set when he broke Djokovic to go up 3-2. It was the first time Djokovic had been broken since his second-round match against Russian Nikolay Davydenko. Fish broke Djokovic once more to take the set 6-3, the only man to win a set against the world’s top player in Montreal.
That’s when the Serb sensation turned it on.
He fought off three break points to hold serve in the first game of the third set and made his decisive break in the fifth game, capitalizing on two unforced Fish errors to shut his opponent out and take a 3-2 lead.
Fish was unable to break Djokovic again and the 24-year-old Serb leapt in the air when a Fish return sailed out of bounds in the deciding game. The champion elicited a roar from the capacity crowd at Uniprix Stadium when he ran to the side of the court and leapt into the air a second time, pumping his fist.
“It’s definitely satisfying to win another title,” said Djokovic, who also won the event in Montreal in 2007. “Mardy has been playing really well throughout the whole tournament and I think today he played a great match.
“I was lucky with a few shots in the third set to force a break.”
Djokovic takes home $450,000 while Fish earns $224,000 for his effort.
With the win, Djokovic moved to 7-0 lifetime against Fish, but the Minnesotan shouldn’t take it personally –- The Serb has crushed everyone this year.
Djokovic is now 53-1 on the season with nine ATP titles, including wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. He has tasted perfection with a 27-0 record in Masters 1000 matches this year and a 29-0 record on hard courts.
Djokovic is also undefeated in ATP World Tour finals this season.
Fish, meanwhile, might be able to take solace in his new career-high No. 7 ATP ranking to be announced on Monday.
He had his best career performance at the Rogers Cup by far. He advanced to the final for the first time in his career after failing to reach the semifinals in all of his previous appearances at the Canadian event.
Fish has won 11 of 13 matches this summer and has made three straight ATP World Tour finals for the first time ever.
“I’d like to congratulate Novak on a great week,” said Fish, before adding half-jokingly, “we’re getting really tired of this (domination), actually.”
Earlier in the day, the fourth-seeded doubles team of Nenad Zimonjic and Michael Llodra won the doubles final, upsetting defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States 6-4, 6-7 (5), 10-5.
The Bryan twins missed a chance to win their 20th Masters 1000 doubles title.
NOTES: The Djokovic-Fish final was delayed for a few minutes in the second set when a man in the stands began to choke. Several people rushed to his aid and one performed the Heimlich manoeuvre. He recovered quickly and remained in his seat … Rogers Cup organizers announced 213,760 paid fans for the week, which is an event record.