Djokovic wins 35th Masters; hurt Osaka withdraws from final

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Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, front, holds his winning trophy after winning his match with Milos Raonic, of Canada, at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK – For all that’s been on Novak Djokovic’s plate of late — including a painful neck and his efforts to start a new players’ association in men’s tennis — he just keeps winning.

He's perfect in 2020, an ideal way to head into the U.S. Open.

Djokovic tied Rafael Nadal’s record by earning his 35th title at a Masters 1000 tournament, overcoming a sluggish start to beat Milos Raonic 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the Western & Southern Open final Saturday and improve to 23-0 this season.

“Has been challenging mentally and emotionally for me to stay sane and be able to compete on the highest level and win this title,” Djokovic said. “Going on an unbeaten run so far this year obviously brings even more confidence each match.”

Djokovic, 11-0 head-to-head against 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Raonic, goes into the U.S. Open as the No. 1 seed and a big favorite. The Grand Slam tournament begins Monday.

“What is that, 23-0?” Raonic said playfully during the trophy ceremony. “Honestly, if I start the year off 3-0, I’m pretty happy.”

Earlier Saturday, Victoria Azarenka won her first tour title since 2016 when Naomi Osaka pulled out of the women’s final because of a left hamstring injury.

“I just hope I’m giving myself, you know, the opportunity and the chance to have enough time” to recover ahead of the U.S. Open, Osaka said.