USA TODAY US Edition
Djokovic upstages Federer
Serbian win third Grand Slam of year, turning back Federer in four sets
In the end, it was Novak Djokovic who came closer to the Grand Slam than Serena Williams.
After a long rain delay Sunday, the world’s top-ranked player beat Roger Federer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to give the 28-year-old Serbian his third major title of the year and 10th of his career.
Retrospectively, it was Williams, the women’s No. 1, who came within two matches of winning all four majors this year, los- ing in a semifinal Friday. Djokovic, however, finishes the Grand Slam season with his trio of major titles and a runner-up performance in the French Open, where he was beaten by Stan Wawrinka.
It’s the second U.S. Open title of Djokovic’s career. The loss denied Federer, 34, an 18th major and his first since Wimbledon 2012.
Federer dropped a third consecutive major final to Djokovic, having lost in the Wimbledon final in 2014 and again this year.
“It was a great match tonight, a
tough one,” Djokovic said. “When you come out on the court against him, you know that you’re playing probably the best player in the history of the game.”
Djokovic becomes the first player since 2011 to win three out of four majors in a calendar year. The last player to do so? Djokovic, winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, just like this year.
Sunday was made difficult for both players, as a consistent rain fell from just shy of match time, 4 p.m. in New York, until 6:30. Players took the court after 7, with much cooler conditions than they had played in so far, the drop in temperature favoring Djokovic’s grinding, never-say-miss game.
Federer had been broken twice in six matches and won 28 consecutive sets over 11 matches since losing the Wimbledon final a couple of months ago. Yet Djokovic won on Federer’s service games twice in the first set, clinching it on his own serve 6-4 when Federer put a backhand into the net.
Djokovic ran away with the match in the fourth set, breaking in the opening game and saving a break point when serving up 3-2. He would hold and a game later break Federer by showcasing his speed and touch, sealing the game with a whizzing cross-court pass to serve for the match 5-2.
Federer breathed some life back into his game, breaking Djokovic for 3-5 on a feathery backhand drop volley, bringing the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd to its feet one last time.
Djokovic captured the title in the subsequent game, first falling behind 15-40 on his service game and facing a third break point off a Federer down-the-line backhand winner. But Djokovic would win the final two points.
The Serb, raising his arms into the sky, ran over to his player’s box and scaled the wall, where he was embraced by his team, including coaches Boris Becker and Marian Vajda.
Federer was playing in his first U.S. Open final since 2009. It was his third major championship match in three years, having been bothered by back problems for much of 2012 and 2013, when he dropped to No. 8 in the world.
“It feels odd to win this five times and then lose and say I’m happy where my game is at,” Federer said. “But I love the sport and I have a lot of passion for it. They make me work hard, and I’m better for it. I’ll see you guys next year.”
Djokovic’s season comes very close to his historic effort in 2011. That year Djokovic was 70-6, winning 10 titles. Sunday’s win moves him to 63-5 with seven titles for the year.