The score-line of Djokovic’s victory over Federer may not indicate the reality that Federer lost Sunday’s championship match against Novak Djokovic on account his failure to convert the numerous break-point opportunities that came his way. He got as many as 23 chances in the match and could only convert 4. Those 19 misses allowed Djokovic to snatch the title away from Federer. Until 2008, Federer ruled at world stage, when he entered 14 Grand Slam Finals, of which he emerged the victor in 12. In the last seven years, he could only add 5 from the 8 Grand Slams finals. But it will be unfair not to credit Djokovic for the manner, in which he played against Federer on Sunday. He is not the world’s no.1 player for nothing. The Serb is not merely a defender; he takes risks in trying to transform an apparent vulnerability into scathing offense. He is tactical genius, who knows full well that what works in the first set may not work in the fourth. The tussle between the two greatest players in the game on Sunday was truly a classic and the Serbian emerged the US Open champion for the second time in his career.
It rained in New York once again and the championship game was delayed by hours. When play finally got underway, Djokovic faced two opponents; one across from him on the other side of the net and the partisan crowd at the Arthur Ashe stadium, who rooted for Federer and jeered at Djokovic. A lesser man than Djokovic might have cracked in such an atmosphere, but the Serb is now a champion of many seasons. He had seen that before and kept himself unruffled against such partisan vibe. Over the years, Djokovic has acquired the mental toughness that prevents him from breaking down. It shows in the same way as his winning a baseline rally with the most tenacious opponent. In the first set, Federer’s first-serve percentage dropped below 50 percent and that allowed Djokovic to take that set 6-4. The 17-time Grand Slam champion found his form in the second set and egged on by the crowd squared the set scores with a 7-5 win.
However just as he did at Wimbledon, Federer couldn’t carry the momentum in the third set. They went on serves until 4-4 before Djokovic broke Federer in the ninth game. Federer won the first two points to take the 30-0 lead but he netted a forehand next. A 118 mph service brought him at 40-15 and on the verge of a 5-4 lead. It was here that Djokovic showed his mettle. The Serb produced a winner to make the score 40-30 and a clean return of Federer’s service took the game to deuce. Federer erred at crunch time with two of his backhand shots going awry and Djokovic got the break for a 2-1 lead on sets.
Federer’s final chance came in the fourth set after Djokovic had established a 5-2 lead. He broke the Serb to make the score 5-4 and when Djokovic served again, Federer held two break-point opportunities. Djokovic saved the first by serving a 123 mph ace and Federer spoiled his last chance by sending a forehand long. On championship point, the Swiss master erred and blew up another chance by committing an error from the baseline to hand over the Grand Slam title to Djokovic at 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
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