Novak Djokovic basked in the glory of his historic achievement of winning all nine ATP Masters titles, though the former world number one said it feels "unreal" following his rollercoaster ride with injury and form issues.
Djokovic accounted for 20-time grand slam champion and rival Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 in the Cincinnati final to become the first singles player to complete a clean sweep of Masters titles.
The Cincinnati trophy was the only piece of silverware missing from Djokovic's cabinet, having already triumphed at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Madrid, Canada, Rome, Shanghai and Paris.
But Wimbledon champion Djokovic – a five-time runner-up in Cincinnati prior to Sunday who has struggled with injury in recent years – claimed the elusive crown to clinch a 'Career Golden Masters'.
"Thank you guys. It's obviously a very special moment," 10th seed Djokovic – who took his Masters tally to 31 titles – said on court afterwards. "It's the first time I get to stand here with a winning trophy in Cincinnati. [I] played five finals before, and most of those finals I lost to this great man, Roger.
"Roger, thank you for your kind words, and thank you for letting me win once in Cincinnati.
"Obviously was a tough match for him today. He probably didn't feel his best, but he's a great champion — probably the best ever to play the game — so it's always a pleasure to share the court with you."
Djokovic – the 13-time major winner – added: "I want to thank my team, my family back home, who is not here with me.
"They'll be with me soon in New York, and I want to share this special moment with them, and want to thank them for their support, unconditional support in the hard times.
"I went through a little bit of a rollercoaster ride in my career with injuries and taking time off, and having surgery earlier this year, so this seems a bit unreal, to be honest — to be back at this level, and winning Wimbledon, and obviously Cincinnati for the first time."
Federer, who was back on the court having opted to skip the Citi Open and Rogers Cup in a bid to ease his schedule, praised Djokovic post-match.
"Congratulations Novak on writing history today," the 37-year-old said. "It's an amazing effort not just today but your whole career to get to this point. It's an amazing achievement. You should be very proud. Well done."Published 20 Aug 2018, 06:03 IST