Novak Djokovic ended his grand slam campaign in style beating long time rival Roger Federer to claim the US Open title on Sunday. Top-ranked Serb beat Federer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to win three major championships in a year for the second time in his career.
The second-seeded Federer is still stuck on 17 Grand Slam championships. After an unsteady start, the Swiss Legend raised his level and kept constant pressure on his rival. But Djokovic had the last word at the year’s last major grand slam saving 19 of 23 break points – including three in the final game – while converting 6 of 13 of his own opportunities.
“He’s the best player ever. I knew I needed to play my best in order to win. It’s an incredible evening….I have tremendous respect for Roger and what his game is presenting to me and to any other player. His level is always going to (force) the best out of you and that was needed from my side,” said Djokovic during the trophy ceremony after winning the match.
“It’s been an incredible season. Next to 2011 probably the best season of my life,” Djokovic added. He who won the same three grand slam titles in 2011.
World number 2, Federer who hasn’t won a Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2012 spoke about the challenge in facing Djokovic.
“Being back in a final is where you want to be…but playing a great champion like Novak is a massive challenge,” said Federer at the presentation ceremony. He last played in the title match at Flushing Meadows in 2009. But he promised his fans that he’ll be back next year.
“I love tennis. I’ll see you back here next year,” said the Swiss to his cheering fans, who supported him throughout the final.
In the rain-delayed match, when Federer and Djokovic finally took to the court they were slow to find their rhythm and footing, particularly the top-seeded Serb. He fell in the opening set and badly scraped his arm and leg. But no damage was done, Djokovic was quick to recover his composure and balance. Federer who was broken just twice during the entire tournament, looked dangerous when he faced three break points in the opening game but managed to save them all. The Swiss, however, could not fight off another three break chances on his next service game as Djokovic made the lead to go up 2-1. Then, Federer broke back instantly but the Serb quickly regained the advantage with yet another break to move ahead 4-3. He then held his serve to take the opening set.
The second set was a test of wills as Federer went toe-to-toe with a defiant Djokovic. The tug-of-war was tinted by a tense 15-minute 10th game, which Djokovic held to level at 5-5. Confronted with Djokovic’s unequaled ability to race along the baseline and reach for the distant shots, 34-year-old Federer found himself trying to put the ball into the tiniest of spaces. And that somehow didn’t work. He wound up with 54 unforced errors, 17 more than Djokovic.
Djokovic saved 19 of the 23 break points he faced, winning six of Federer’s service games. Djokovic also won 10 of the first 12 points that lasted at least 10 strokes, a pattern that repeated itself throughout the evening. Djokovic continued to keep up the pressure with a break to open the fourth and then again to go up 5-2 to put the US Open within his grip.
In the end, Djokovic handled everything perfectly, frustrating Federer with his relentless defense and unparalleled returns. Djokovic took control late and held on for a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win.
(With inputs from PTI)