MONTREAL - The wins keep piling up for Novak Djokovic, who now has a second men's Rogers Cup title in his collection.
The world's top-ranked player posted a hard-fought 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory over sixth-seeded American Mardy Fish on Sunday, a popular outcome before a mostly pro-Djokovic full house on centre court at Uniprix Stadium.
It was Djokovic's ninth tournament victory of the year and a record fifth win in one season in an ATP Masters 1,000 event. The Wimbledon champion from Serbia improved his record this year to 53-1, including a perfect 29-0 on hard courts.
"I am human — I can definitely assure you of that," the 24-year-old said with a broad smile. "I guess it's just all about having a positive attitude on the court every day, waking up every day wanting to improve, wanting to win, being determined, being professional.
"It's that desire and motivation that keeps me going. Every match I play, I try to win, regardless which match is it or whoever is across the net."
One this day, he had an opponent nearly as hot as he was in Fish, who was in his third tournament final in a row.
Fish has now lost all seven career meetings with Djokovic, but he gave the top seed a battle with his awkward mix of baseline and attacking play.
It was 2-2 in the third set before losing a weak service game, volleying game point meekly into the net, that gave away the match. But the 29-year-old never quit, battling back from 0-40 in the final game and forcing Djokovic to complete the win on his fourth match point.
"I put myself in a lot of positions to have chances," said Fish. "I just didn't execute on the big points.
"There's a reason why (Djokovic) has won so many matches this year. He's got to be leading the tour in break points saved, I'm sure, among other things. Those are huge. I thought it was big to start serving in the third and to get through those first couple games was good. Everything was going according to plan. I just played one bad game."
"It was a close match, for sure," he said. "A couple of points, one good return game in the third set, decided the winner.
"But it's a final. I knew that he is not going to give me the match and the win. I knew that I have to fight for it. Up to the last moment, you didn't really know who is going to win. But I believed I could do it. I had composure when I needed to. I think that was decisive."
Djokovic, who won his first Rogers Cup title in 2007, picked up US$450,000 for the win. Fish earned $224,000 for his valiant effort to become only the second player this year to beat Djokovic after Roger Federer in the French Open semifinals.
Djokovic, who had played night matches this week, looked uncomfortable from the outset and needed to save six break points to get through the opening set.
He saved his eighth of the match before Fish finally broke him with a perfect forehand down the line to take a 3-2 lead in the second set. Djokovic looked lost as he was broken again to close out the set.
But Djokovic was near-perfect on his service in the final set, and raised his racquet in victory to a thunderous roar from the seats.
Djokovic was in his first event since winning Wimbledon, while Fish has been the hottest player of the hard court season leading to the U.S. Open later this month, including a win last month in Atlanta.
Both players are off to Cincinnati for another tournament this week, the last tune-up before the U.S. Open. It will be chance for Djokovic to extend his streak, although he said he would play a little golf beforehand.
"I'm sure that there is going to be, you know, bad days," he said. "I just feel that now I'm playing the best tennis of my life.
"This year by far has been the best in my career. I'm enjoying it. That confidence that I'm carrying helps me a lot."
Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia and Michael Llodra of France won the doubles title 6-4, 6-7, 10-5 over American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan.
The fourth-seeded pair split the $140,000 top prize while the Bryans won $70,000. Zimonjic and Llodra ousted Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Max Mirnyi of Belarus in the semifinals Saturday.
Nestor and Mirnyi took home $35,500.