US Open - Djokovic downs Federer in thriller

Eurosport - Sat, 11 Sep 23:59:00 2010

Third seed Novak Djokovic denied Roger Federer a seventh successive US Open final appearance, saving two match points before wrapping up an attritional 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 7-5 win in New York.

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The Serb, who had lost to five-times champion Federer in each of the last three US Opens, wrapped up the win in three hours and 43 minutes to set up a meeting with world number one Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final.

"It was just a big pleasure playing in this kind of match," the 23-year-old Serb told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd after the match.

"It's one of those matches you'll always remember in your career. I'm just so thrilled to be in the final.

"To be honest I was just closing my eyes and hitting forehands as fast as I can on the match points," said Djokovic, when asked what he was thinking when he found himself match points down.

"If it goes in, it goes in. If it goes out, you know, another loss to Federer in the US Open. I managed to come back. I was very lucky."

The match began in scintillating fashion when Federer drilled a backhand return of serve winner across the court on the very first point to set the tone for the opening set.

Both players made brilliant starts on the return of serve in particular with first Federer and then Djokovic enjoying early break points.

But it took until the sixth game for the first break to be secured - and perhaps unexpectedly it went the way of Djokovic, who sealed his lead with a deft backhand volley across court.

It took no time at all for Federer to get things back on track though and he broke back immediately, a first double fault from the Serb opening the game up before the 29-year-old Swiss player drilled a forehand drive volley into the corner.

And Federer broke again four games later after a woeful game from the Djokovic who drifted a backhand approach shot long to hand the world number two the chance to serve out the set.

The 11th game excepted, it is doubtful Djokovic could play much better than he did the first set and yet after 51 minutes, and despite the Serb grabbing that first break, the Serb found himself trailing by a set.

A bizarre second set will be remembered for an incredible collapse from Federer, although this should not take away from the 23-year-old Serb's improved mental strength as he fought his way past the disappointment of the first set.

Djokovic again went an early break ahead, this time in just the second game, with a scintillating dipping backhand winner straight at Federer's feet before consolidating his lead when the Swiss player dumped consecutive backhands into the net.

But instead of recovering from the lull in form, Federer continued to struggle and Djokovic broke for a second time in the sixth game before serving out the set to 15 when his opponent netted yet another backhand.

The third set was a much more even affair with both players holding serve with ease until Federer imperceptibly lifted his level in the 12th game.

Despite losing only four points on serve up until that point in the set, Djokovic, serving to stay in it for a second time, was undone by consecutive backhand winners down the line from Federer before conceding with a wide across court.

Clearly frustrated by his collapse in the third set, the match looked like it could be heading towards an end when Djokovic struggled in the opening two games of the fourth set.

But the Serb bounced back in impressive fashion and grabbed an early break in just the third game, by riffling a backhand passing shot winner across court.

Djokovic went on to double his lead in the fourth set with another break two games later when, after squandering two chances with backhands wide, the Serb drilled a forehand down the line that Federer could only volley wide.

A tense fifth set went with serve, and with neither player facing break points, until the 10th game when Djokovic, trailing 5-4, drilled a backhand wide to hand Federer two match points.

But the Serb demonstrated all his stubbornness and saved the first with a gutsy forehand drive volley winner across court, also saving the second with a forehand winner down the line, before going on to hold.

Buoyed by saving those chances and will the adrenalin quite clearly flowing, Djokovic quickly drilled another forehand winner across court before earning himself a break point when Federer drifted a forehand wide into the tramlines.

It was the forehand that was to prove the difference in the match; while Djokovic's was firing, Federer's spectacularly let him down, another one going wide to hand the Serb the decisive break.

A nervy Djokovic looked like he might falter whilst serving for the match, Federer racing out to a 0-30 lead with a forehand winner down the line and a tired backhand wide across court from the Serb.

But Djokovic quickly recovered to earn himself a place in the final when Federer's forehand again left him down and drifted wide after a lengthy rally.

"I feel somewhat empty at the end," said Federer, who was runner-up last year to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina. "You tried everything.

"Obviously you feel like you left something out there if you lose a match and had match point."

"It was electric. It was good tennis at the end."

Pippa Davis / Eurosport

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