BEST OF 2011
Best Grand Slam/Davis Cup Matches Of The Year - Top 2
by ATP Staff|
ATPWorldTour.com reviews the two best matches of the year from Grand Slam events and Davis Cup.
2. Roger Federer d. Novak Djokovic, 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5), Roland Garros SF
The Roland Garros semi-final clash between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic is a match that stands out not only for its intense high quality and late-finishing drama, but also as the day when Djokovic was finally beaten, ending his 41-match winning streak in 2011.
Federer went into the contest having lost his past three meetings with Djokovic and brought his best tennis to the table as he looked to reach the Roland Garros final for the fifth time. The standard of tennis was exceptional in the 70-minute opener, featuring 32 winners. After saving two set points at 4-5, Federer regained his composure to clinch the first set in the tie-break and quickly assumed a two-set lead after racing to a 4-1 advantage in the second set.
Djokovic took advantage of a dip in Federer’s form at the beginning of the third set and took control of the baseline rallies to garner an early service break, which he maintained to start an improbable fightback. With daylight fading, Djokovic was also battling Federer’s 174-0 record in Grand Slam matches when having won the first two sets, but looked set to push the match to a fifth set when he broke the Swiss in the ninth game of the fourth set. Federer immediately struck back, though, and saved two break points in the following game as the set went to a tie-break.
Djokovic cancelled out Federer's early advantage in the tie-break. But from 3-3, Federer won three straight points and closed out his 219th win at a major championship with his 18th ace of the match at 9:37 p.m. local time. "I really wanted to make it as physical as possible, which I was able to make happen," said Federer, who hit 48 winners in total. "I was really happy with the way I played. I thought it was a great match from both sides."
Djokovic conceded, "He played really good in the important moments. I congratulate him for a great performance. He really played well. We were, I think, part of a very good match, and it feels bad losing."
1. Novak Djokovic d. Roger Federer, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5, US Open SF
History repeated itself in the US Open semi-finals as Novak Djokovic saved two match points to stun Roger Federer in an epic five-set clash for the second year in a row. If possible, the 2011 contest was made even more dramatic with Djokovic rallying from a two-set deficit for the second time in his career to prevail in three hours and 51 minutes.
Five-time US Open champion Federer had appeared in command when he assumed a two-set lead, but Djokovic raised his level significantly to claw his way back into contention. The Serb won 93 per cent of points on first serve and committed just seven unforced errors in the following two sets as he forced a decider in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, regained control in the fifth set. He broke Djokovic’s serve in the eighth game and set up two match points at 40/15 on serve, with the Arthur Ashe crowd roaring its approval. An inspired Djokovic saved the first with a scintillating forehand return winner, and raised his arms to the crowd to receive their adulation. The shot served as a catalyst for his fightback and the Belgrade native converted his second break point chance as Federer double faulted. After levelling at 5-5, Djokovic broke the Swiss’ serve to 15 with another forehand winner before coolly sealing his 63rd win in 65 matches to leave Federer shell-shocked again.
"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."
Just two months earlier at Wimbledon, Federer had surrendered a two-set lead in a Grand Slam match for the first time when he was beaten by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals. "It's awkward having to explain this loss because I feel like I should be doing the other press conference," said the Basel native. "But it's what it is. He came back; he played well. I didn't play so well at the very end. Sure, it's disappointing, but I have only myself to blame. I set it all up perfect, but I couldn't finish it."