NEW YORK, Sept 14: Thrilled to win a point in the US Open final, and bent on proving a point, Novak Djokovic leaped and roared and threw an uppercut, then glared at some of the thousands of spectators pulling for Roger Federer.
After winning another point in that game, Djokovic nodded as he smiled toward the stands. And moments later, Djokovic shook his right arm, bloodied by an early fall, and screamed,
�Yes! Yes!� to celebrate a missed forehand by Federer.
Djokovic appeared to be all alone out there in Arthur Ashe Stadium, trying to solve Federer while also dealing with a crowd loudly supporting the 17-time major champion proclaimed �arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport� by the stadium announcer during prematch introductions.
In the end, Djokovic handled everything in a thrill-a-minute final on a frenetic night. Frustrating Federer with his relentless defense and unparalleled returning, Djokovic took control late and held on for a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory yesterday to earn his second US Open title, third major championship of the year and 10th Grand Slam trophy in all.
�I have a tremendous respect for Roger and what his game is presenting to me and to any other player,� Djokovic said during the trophy ceremony. �His level is always going to (force) the best out of you and that was needed from my side.�
Confronted with Djokovic�s unequaled ability to race along the baseline and contort his body this way and that, sneakers squeaking loudly as he changed directions or scraping like sandpaper as he slid to reach unreachable shots, the 34-year-old Federer found himself trying to put the ball into the tiniest of spaces. And it didn�t work. He wound up with 54 unforced errors, 17 more than Djokovic.
Another key statistic: Djokovic saved 19 of the 23 break points he faced, while winning six of Federer�s service games. One more: Djokovic won 10 of the first 12 points that lasted at least 10 strokes, a pattern that repeated itself throughout the evening.
�Being back in a final is where you want to be,� said Federer, who last played in the title match at Flushing Meadows in 2009. �Playing a great champion like Novak is a massive challenge.�
After all the attention paid to Serena Williams� bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam, which ended with a semifinal loss at the US Open, it�s Djokovic who wound up 27-1 in major tournaments this season, including appearances in all four finals. He beat Andy Murray at the Australian Open in January, lost to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open in June, then beat Federer at Wimbledon in July.
�An incredible season,� Djokovic called it.
The 28-year-old from Serbia also won a trio of majors in 2011, and his career total ranks tied for seventh-most in history behind Federer.
Djokovic also evened his head-to-head record with Federer at 21-all. They have met in three of the last five Grand Slam finals, and Djokovic is 3-0 in those. It is as spectacular a rivalry as there is in tennis right now, with contrasting styles of play.
Rain began falling about 10 minutes before they were supposed to head out from the locker room, and the start of the match was delayed for more than three hours, beginning after 7 PM. Won�t happen again: The US Tennis Association is in the midst of constructing a retractable roof expected to be ready for next year�s tournament.
In the third game, Djokovic slipped as he raced forward and fell, ripping skin off his hand, elbow and knee. Federer looked across the net to check on him, and Djokovic quickly motioned that he was OK. Perhaps a bit shaken, he would lose six of the next seven points, and then had a trainer treat it at the next changeover. � AP