Mason: By now, everyone knows Roger Federer's itinerary for Cincinnati: Get his game in order, raise the winner's trophy, leave town with a lot of confidence for the US Open.
Might as well rename it the Federer Cup.
Federer won his unprecedented sixth title in Cincinnati on Sunday, beating David Ferrer 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 at the Western & Southern Open. He's reached the finals six times and won all six.
How does this keep happening?
"I don't know," he said. "I just really enjoy myself here."
Serena Williams couldn't say that until Sunday, when she got her first Cincinnati championship on her sixth try. Williams needed only 62 minutes to beat Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-1 and earn a title that had always slipped away.
"I love this moment," she said. "I love holding up the trophy."
The tournament's brackets opened up when defending champions Rafael Nadal and Victoria Azarenka withdrew because of injuries. Top-seeded Novak Djokovic had a rough week and got knocked out in his second match.
There was one constant: Federer playing well on Cincinnati's fast courts.
"I'm really pleased with the week. Overall, it went from good to great," the Swiss star said. "My game's exactly where I want it to be."
His latest title came against an opponent he has dominated throughout his career. Federer improved to 16-0 against Ferrer, who has won only five sets off him overall. Ferrer took advantage of Federer's lull in the second set, but couldn't keep up.
"The third set, he served unbelievable," Ferrer said. "He played really good and I was a little bit tired. But anyway, with Roger it's difficult, no?"
Title No 6 ended a bit of a slump for Federer, who had lost his last four Masters finals matches. He was the runner-up to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Toronto a week earlier.
"I've been bringing home some smaller ones," Federer said after raising the large winner's trophy. "I'm happy to get the big one."
Williams opened the day by winning her elusive title so convincingly that she's thinking another one could be on its way soon.
"Definitely my best performance of the summer," she said. "Hopefully not the last.
"This is definitely a level that can take me to the (US Open) title. I still have a lot of work to do. It's definitely a better level than I've played all year, to be honest."
Ivanovic was treated for a stomach ailment during her nearly 3-hour win over Maria Sharapova in the semifinals Saturday night. She didn't have much left against Williams, who dominated with her serve.
Williams had 12 aces.
"Only?" Ivanovic said. "It felt like way more."
The only other event that Williams had played six times without a title is Sydney. She finally got her win in Cincinnati with the help of a favorable matchup. Williams is 7-1 in her career against Ivanovic, the only loss coming at the Australian Open this year.
Although their last three matches have been close - all going three sets - this one was one-sided after the first few games.
"I felt like she was dominating," Ivanovic said.
Williams developed a stiff back that limited her serve in the semi-finals Saturday night. She moved stiffly at the start Sunday, double-faulted in the first game and was broken - an ominous sign. But she started moving better and took control with her serve, pulling even at 3-3. She clinched the set when Ivanovic double-faulted twice in a row.
The back problem came into play in the second set. Williams winced after a serve in the opening game and arched her back. She stretched her back a few times between points and played through it.
"I felt it a little bit in the second, but I just was so excited for this final and to be in the final," she said. "I just really felt like I had nothing to lose. So I was able to relax."
Despite the loss, Ivanovic will move back into the top 10 in the WTA rankings with her strong showing in Cincinnati.
"It's the biggest final I've been in in a while. It feels good to be part of it," she said. "There are still a few points in my game that I feel I need to work on for the US Open and also for the end of season. Definitely exciting times."