US OPEN 2011
Djokovic Saves 2 MPs In Epic Comeback
New York, U.S.A.
by James Buddell|
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic extended his remarkable season by coming back from a 0-2 sets deficit for the second time in his career, saving two match points at 3-5 in the fifth set, to defeat Switzerland's Roger Federer, the 2004-08 champion, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 in three hours and 51 minutes on Saturday afternoon.
Djokovic will now attempt to become the sixth man in the Open Era to lift three Grand Slam championship trophies in the same year on Monday at the US Open, where he is bidding to lift his fourth major crown overall.
He will contest his sixth Grand Slam championship final against World No. 2 and defending champion Rafael Nadal, of Spain, who beat fourth-seeded Scot and 2008 runner-up Andy Murray in four sets. Match Report
Djokovic, who became World No. 1 in July, will look to join Rod Laver (1969), Jimmy Connors (1974), Mats Wilander (1988), Federer (2004, 2006-07) and Nadal (2010) as a three-time major titlist in the same season. He won his second Australian Open title over Murray in January and beat Nadal in the Wimbledon final two months ago.
"It was a very similar situation to last year," acknowledged Djokovic. "I had to take my chances. I was very close to being on my way back home. He was serving. He was 40/15 up. I managed to hit that amazing forehand return which got me back. I got a little bit of energy from the crowd, and I fought back. I needed to stay positive, and I definitely didn't want the French Open to happen again. It was an incredible last two games.
"The confidence level is very high at this moment for me and it helps me to get into these big matches and go for the shots that I maybe I wasn't going for in the past couple of years. But it's all I think a process of learning and getting experience and maturing as a player, as a person. For these matches you're working hard and you want to be there. You want to be there and you want to win against guys like Federer."
In a good quality first set, which lasted 55 minutes, Djokovic dropped five points on serve en route to the tie-break. Federer, however, managed to open up a 5-2 lead in a dramatic tie-break and held three set point opportunities at 6-3. Djokovic saved all three with groundstroke winners, yet on Federer's fifth chance the Swiss hit a forehand down the line that the top seed tamely netted. Federer improved to 16-8 in tie-breaks this year.
Momentum swung back and forth in the second set. Federer broke serve first in the third game, converting his second opportunity with a forehand winner that landed behind a scrambling Djokovic. At 1-3, Djokovic responded by winning the next two games, sealing his first break point chance when Federer hit a forehand long. Federer bounced back, breaking Djokovic to love and holding for 5-3. Minutes later, Federer took a commanding lead after one hour and 51 minutes of play. Djokovic, in his fifth straight US Open semi-final, would now need to recover from a 0-2 sets deficit for the second time in his career (2005 Wimbledon - Guillermo Garcia-Lopez).
The third set started well for Djokovic. Cheered on by P-Diddy in the Serbian's box and a number of Hollywood actors dotted around the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Djokovic converted his third break point opportunity, in an eight-minute service game, when Federer hit a backhand into the net. Djokovic grew in stature, maintaining the three-game cushion to clinch the set after 42 minutes, with a service hold to 30 when Federer mis-hit a backhand long.
Djokovic showcased tremendous athleticism at the start of the fourth set, lunging for deep Federer groundstrokes to break the Swiss to 15 in the first game. With Federer barely winning a point in Djokovic's service games, the 24-year-old Serbian's comeback gained pace when he took a 4-1 lead as unforced errors by Federer continued to mount. At 1-5, Federer fought back from 15/40, but Djokovic was not to be denied as minutes later he sent the match to a deciding set. In the third and fourth sets, Djokovic had won 93 per cent of points on first serve and committed just seven unforced errors.
In a tense decider, Federer broke Djokovic's serve in the eighth game. He went on to set up two match points at 40/15, but was unable to convert either of them. Djokovic broke back, when Federer double-faulted on the Serb's second break point opportunity. Would history repeat itself? In 2010, Federer squandered two match points on Djokovic's serve to lose the US Open semi-final.
Djokovic regained his composure to level at 5-5. In the next game, Djokovic's greater groundstroke power reaped dividends when he broke Federer's serve to 15 with a forehand winner. Djokovic coolly sealed his 63rd win in 65 matches this year to leave Federer shell-shocked again.Arthur Ashe Stadium: