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August 25, 2009

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Federer sends out warning as US Open nears

ROGER Federer has regained his No. 1 form after taking time off for the birth of his twin daughters.

Federer's 6-1, 7-5 victory over Novak Djokovic in Mason, Ohio, on Sunday brought him the Cincinnati Masters title, his first championship since his twins were born last month.

"That's the special part, especially winning for the first time as a dad," Federer said. "It gets me going emotionally a little bit, because I know it's been a wonderful summer."

His season can get even better beginning next week at the US Open. The Swiss star has won the last five titles there, and his performance on Sunday suggested he's fully capable of another. Serbian Djokovic hadn't lost a set all week, but was never in the title match.

"The closest I was going to get to the first-place trophy is now," the world's fourth-ranked player said, standing a few feet away from the crystal bowl that goes to the winner of the US$3 million Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.

Federer's glass-enclosed trophy case in Switzerland has gotten a lot of precious additions lately. The 28-year-old star won his first French Open championship, then outlasted Andy Roddick in an epic five-set Wimbledon match that brought him a record 15th grand slam title.

He shuttled between hospital and practice court for three weeks after his wife, Mirka, gave birth to twins in July. He lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals in Montreal, blowing a 5-2 lead in the final set, then came to Cincinnati to work off the rust and get ready for the Open.

"I felt like my game was already pretty well in place in practice, so knew coming over here it was not just to show up," he said. "That it paid off so quickly, I'm a little bit surprised, you know?"

Federer will be trying to win a sixth straight US Open title, something no one has accomplished since Bill Tilden did it from 1920-25.

In Toronto, Russian fourth seed Elena Dementieva picked up her third title of the year and denied compatriot Maria Sharapova a comeback win with a 6-4, 6-3 victory in the final of the Rogers Cup on Sunday.

Dementieva's victory was just the third in nine meetings against Sharapova, who was playing for a title for the first time since Amelia Island in April 2008 as she continued her return from shoulder surgery.

Good omen

It is the 14th career title for Dementieva and comes with a good omen, the three past winners of the Toronto tournament going on to capture the US Open.

"I felt like Lleyton Hewitt today, I was fighting for every point, so many long rallies, it's not the game I like to play," Dementieva told reporters. "I was just waiting for my chances and didn't rush.

"This kind of win gives you a lot of confidence, so right now it is all about recovery and getting ready for New York."

Working her way back to top form after nine months on the sidelines, Sharapova has made steady progress since she launched her comeback in May.

Despite her service woes - the three-time grand slam winner served up nine double faults in the first set alone - Sharapova heads to Flushing Meadows on an upbeat note. She is guaranteed to be seeded at the Open, moving up from her current 49th ranking into the top 32 by reaching the Toronto final.


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