Dimitrov Claims Maiden Master Title In Cincy -- Recap

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For the first time since Andre Agassi was still on tour, the ATP has seen three Masters titles in a row won by someone who is not named Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, or Murray. After Zverev conquered Rome and Montreal, a player from the oft-titled 'Lost Generation' of the ATP has won his first 1000 - Grigor Dimitrov.

A tournament where Baby Fed's namesake has so often found success saw, for the first time in years, a set of semifinalists that consisted of no members of the top ten. On a semifinals day on which the ATP tour saw no breaks of serve, Kyrgios and Dimitrov were left standing as two men contesting for the biggest titles of their career. Building on his strong start to the season, which landed him a couple of titles and a 5-set high-wire semifinal defeat to Nadal in Melbourne, Dimitrov was finally able this Sunday to break out of his mid-summer funk to straight-set Kyrgios for the Cincinnati title.

For all the aesthetic appeal of his backhand and serve, and the way his form evokes that of Federer, Dimitrov found a path to the title by playing very much like another member of the Big Four - Andy Murray. Employing his impressive athleticism to defend numerous Kyrgios forehands, Dimitrov found himself unable to miss. Exercising a simple tactic effectively - keeping the ball low to Nick's shovel-like backhand - the newly crowned Masters champion was able to side-step a flurry of double faults and overcome a barrage of huge second-serves to win by a break in each set.

Kyrgios, to his credit, did not contest poorly. Aggressive on the forehand side, and generally sharp on serve, he was undone by an inability to dig out shots on his backhand wing and an unwillingness to come forward to end points. However, for a player struggling with a hip injury as recently as a week ago, losing in both tournaments to the eventual champion is no small achievement - especially when a win aside from those consists of routing the new world number one.

Ahead of the US Open, Cincinnati has raised a multitude of questions about what might be the most open slam in recent history. Will Zverev, who followed up his back-to-back Masters' success with a first-round exit, have the fitness to contend in best-of-five? Will Kyrgios be able to overcome his hip to be a factor into the Open's second week? How will Dimitrov respond to his career-best year, and how will Nadal handle his return to the top spot - achieved with no non-clay titles to his name? All this and more remains to be seen, along with the state of Federer's back, the race for year-end number one, and Shapovalov's playing the qualifying.

In a few weeks, the tennis world might finally see the surge of a new generation, or we might get to witness a Fedal under the lights on Arthur Ashe. What is a certainty, however, is that Montreal and Cincinnati have been two of the most thrilling Masters 1000s in recent memory - and everything that's happened over the last couple of weeks should have tennis fans unquestionably excited.