Djokovic’s epic vic­tory over Fed­erer among the hard­est wins

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

NO­VAK Djokovic’s lat­est vic­tory over Roger Fed­erer was among the tough­est and best in their epic ri­valry, a 7-6 (6), 5-7, 7-6 (3) feast of at­tack­ing ten­nis which had the roar­ing crowd on their feet and re­mained in doubt un­til the very end.

It fi­nally ended, af­ter three hours, when Djokovic moved 6-1 up in the tiebreaker. Fed­erer saved two match points but cracked in a long rally and chopped a back­hand into the net.

“We had epic matches through­out our ri­valry but this one def­i­nitely ranks as one of the best,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic’s fourth straight win over Fed­erer and 25th in 47 con­tests sends him into the fi­nal against un­seeded Rus­sian Karen Khachanov, who has never played in a Mas­ters fi­nal.

“This is my best match of the year, that’s for sure,” Djokovic said, ad­dress­ing the crowd in French. “Big re­spect to Roger.”

Fed­erer re­mains one short of 100 ca­reer ti­tles.

“When you lose a close match like this you al­ways have re­grets,” a dis­ap­pointed Fed­erer said. “That’s why I guess I have this face right now.”

Djokovic is on a 22-match win­ning streak and will aim to move level with Rafael Nadal on a record 33 Mas­ters ti­tles.

“No­vak is ob­vi­ously on a roll,” Fed­erer said. “You can feel it.”

Khachanov, who beat Do­minic Thiem 6-4, 6-1, won the Krem­lin Cup in Moscow last month for his third ca­reer ti­tle.

Djokovic, who beat him on the way to the Wim­ble­don ti­tle, is seek­ing a record-ex­tend­ing fifth Paris Mas­ters ti­tle and 73rd ti­tle over­all.

He was made to work far harder than when he beat Fed­erer in the Cincin­nati Mas­ters fi­nal in Au­gust.

Af­ter they hugged at the net, Fed­erer walked off quickly and raised a thumb to the cheer­ing crowd.

“Peo­ple en­joy the ri­valry. We do as well,” Fed­erer said. “It’s tough and fair, the way it’s sup­posed to be.”

Fans got ev­ery­thing they could have hoped for: Two play­ers with a com­bined 34 Grand Slam ti­tles, 59 Mas­ters ti­tles, and 533 weeks at No. 1 slug­ging it out at a level of un­re­lent­ing yet sub­lime in­ten­sity.

Bril­liant one-handed win­ners on the run from Fed­erer down the line and acute-an­gle vol­leys at the net; as­ton­ish­ing elas­tic­ity while re­triev­ing from the base­line and laser-beam fore­hands to the cor­ners from Djokovic.

Fed­erer had 17 aces, while Djokovic got five of his eight in his last three ser­vice games of the match, rais­ing his level at the right time.

Djokovic briefly let his volatile tem­per get the bet­ter of him, though, when he had Fed­erer at 15-40 down in the ninth game of the de­cid­ing set. Fed­erer saved both break points, and Djokovic whacked his racket into the ground, draw­ing the first and only boos of a ti­tanic match.

Djokovic held his hands up as if to apol­o­gize to the un­for­giv­ing crowd, un­happy that a pique of rage in­ter­rupted their gourmet feast of ten­nis.

Brim­ming with con­fi­dence in a sea­son which has seen him go from No. 22 in the rank­ings in May to No. 1 when they are re­leased on Mon­day, and in which he also added the U.S. Open to his Grand Slam haul, Djokovic cre­ated pres­sure through­out.

But Fed­erer saved every break point — 12 of them — and se­cured the only break of the match in clinch­ing the sec­ond set.

“Hasn’t hap­pened too many times that I don’t break a serve of any­one, es­pe­cially if I have 12 break points,” Djokovic said. “Most of the break points he just served well, and played great shots.”

The best one of the match went to Fed­erer in the eighth game. As Fed­erer charged to the net, Djokovic hit a pow­er­ful fore­hand which clipped the net and flew to the left of Fed­erer, wrong-foot­ing him. From a seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble an­gle, and to­tally off bal­ance, he scooped his racket be­hind his neck and flicked a vol­ley over the net for a win­ner.

Fed­erer thrust his arms into the air, the crowd rose to their feet in sheer dis­be­lief.

Even by Fed­erer’s lofty stan­dards, it was re­mark­able.

“That’s why he is who he is,” Djokovic said, ad­mir­ingly.

But af­ter los­ing the match, Fed­erer was left shak­ing his head. He was un­happy with some­one in the crowd twice shout­ing “out” dur­ing the long match-point rally.

“It’s just un­for­tu­nate it hap­pens and at the end you lose the point, the match,” Fed­erer said. Still, he re­tained a sense of irony. “Thank God the rally ended,” he said. “It would have been five times if it con­tin­ued.”

Photo: AP

No­vak Djokovicv of Ser­bia re­turns the ball to Roger Fed­erer of Switzer­land dur­ing their semi­fi­nal match of the Paris Mas­ters ten­nis tour­na­ment at the Bercy Arena in Paris, France on Satur­day.

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