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Ricky’s pick for the Cincinnati final: Alcaraz vs. Djokovic

A rematch of the recent Wimbledon final is in the cards, as Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic are set to go head-to-head once again on Sunday afternoon in the final of the Western & Southern Open.

Alcaraz triumphed 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 at Wimbledon to earn his second slam title and deny Djokovic a shot at the CYGS heading into the U.S. Open. The current top two players in the world have square off on only two other occasions. Alcaraz won 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) at the 2022 Madrid Masters; Djokovic prevailed 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 at Roland Garros this spring in part due to cramping suffered by his opponent.

Alcaraz may have to worry somewhat over his physical state in this one, as Cincy temperatures are expected to soar and he has played nothing but three-setters. The Spaniard earned his spot in the final after going three sets with Jordan Thompson, Tommy Paul, Max Purcell, and Hubert Hurkacz–even fighting a match point against Hurkacz in the second set.

“Well, I mean, I guess it’s the ultimate challenge at the moment for me,” Djokovic said of playing against Alcaraz. “We faced each other in the last three events. Roland Garros, clay. Wimbledon, grass. Now hard court. It’s going to be the first encounter on a hard court. It’s a very good test prior to US Open. Obviously different conditions. Here best-of-three, US Open best-of-five. It’s still facing the top, top player of the world now who is in form. It’s the biggest challenge I could get, so I’m looking forward to it. Now it’s the best way to prepare for New York.”

Djokovic has endured no such issues at his first Masters 1000 event since Wimbledon. Wasting no time getting right back in action following the heartbreak in London, the 36-year-old Serb has advance in Cincinnati with straight-set defeats of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (via retirement), Gael Monfils, Taylor Fritz, and Alexander Zverev.

Djokovic is fresher, even though Alcaraz insists he is feeling good.

“I feel good,” the 20-year-old said after beating Hurkacz. “Probably the people can think that I going to be tired in the final. But I feel good. It doesn’t matter if I play in third set, long matches; I’m recovering really, really well with my physio–with my team. I feel like I’m going to play the first match of the tournament. I feel great.”

Still, Djokovic is more rested and has showcased a superior level this week. It should be another fun one, but the edge goes to the world No. 2.

Pick: Djokovic in 3

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.