Federer wins 4th straight US Open which includes upsets, great weather and exiting play (9/07)

Roger Federer continued his dominance in winning his 4th straight US Open and 12th Grand Slam overall. He is now two Grand Slam titles behind Pete Sampras’ 14 Grand Slam Title record. He defeated Novak Djokovic in three tough sets in the finals. The #3 Djokovic has become a fan favorite and top contender despite being only 20 years old. He had Federer on the ropes in the first set at 6-5 but squandered 5 set points and lost in the tiebreaker. Djokovic played a tough second set and had two more set points before losing again in a tie breaker. He then had his serve broken at 4-5 and lost in three straight sets in his first Grand Slam final. Federer’s day meant a $2.4 million pay off as he earned $1.4 million for the win and a bonus $1 million for capturing the US Open Tennis Series this summer. In the end, it was Federer’s experience and confidence that caused him to persevere in the clutch moments. Djokovic was up 6-5, 40-love when nerves seemed to get to him and his serve faltered. Then Djokovic lost his temper throwing his racket down in the tiebreaker after making some unforced errors.

 

Now Federer, at age 26 has two main goals to accomplish. The first is winning the French Open, which will be a tough task as long as Rafael Nadal is healthy and the second is topping Sampras’ All Time Grand Slam record. On a lighter note, Federer will play Sampras in three exhibitions in the Fall in Asia then one in New York on March 10, 2008. Federer had a semi-tough time on his way to the finals. After breezing through the first two rounds he met up with youngster, John Isner of the USA. The 6’9” Isner came out of the University of Georgia to play on the ATP tour this summer and did well. He reached the finals of the Washington tournament before losing to Andy Roddick. He advanced to the third round by upsetting #26 Jarkko Nieminen of Finland in the first round and then qualifier, Rick De Vost of South Africa in the second round to set up his match against Federer. He had the crowd buzzing after taking the first set in a tiebreaker vs. the #1 seed before Federer wore him down to take the next three sets. In the fourth round Federer dropped the first set to Feliciano Lopez but remained cool in this night match to also take the next three sets. In the quarterfinals he faced Andy Roddick in this largely anticipated night match. Roddick played him evenly the first two sets and lost both in tiebreakers and then succumbed in the third set. Federer reached the finals by destroying Nikolay Davydenko in the semi-finals. On the other side Djokovic had a relatively easy draw to the finals except for his second round match vs. the Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek. Stepanek has had a great summer after over coming a serious back injury that put him out for almost a year. In one of the best matches of the tournament Djokovic prevailed in five close sets including the 5th set tiebreaker.

 

The #2 ranked American, James Blake had some tough yet exciting moments. He won his first round match vs. fellow American Michael Russell but it wasn’t easy with two of the sets going to tiebreakers. His next two matches were some of the best matches of the tournament. In his second round match up he played France’s Fabrice Santoro in the highlighted night match that didn’t disappoint. The match went back and fourth with Blake making some spectacular winners but also encountering numerous unforced errors. Santoro, known as the French Magician for his two handed forehand and backhand with a variety of spin and drop shots didn’t give up. He battled through leg cramps late in the match and lost 6-4 in a close fifth set. In my opinion this was the most entertaining match of the whole tournament even though Blake’s next round match vs. #10 Tommy Haas of German ranked right behind. In another close five set match in which both players were striking many winners Haas eventually won having to save two match points. Haas ended out bowing out in the next round to Davydenko as his game tailed off. There were a few surprises in the tournament: 19 year old Ernests Gulbis of Latvia defeating #8 Tommy Robredo in the third round, Augustine Calleri beating #16 Layton Hewitt in the second round and 17 year old American Donald Young advancing to the third round before losing to Lopez. The biggest upset, however was Spain’s David Ferrer beating fellow countryman #2 seed Nadal in the round of 16. Nadal didn’t seem to be moving well with a nagging knee injury and lost in four sets just before 2am.

 

Noteworthy interviews included Federer modestly talking about his confidence during the tournament vs. many of the players he was facing.  He mentioned Roddick is a tough opponent with his big serves but he has lost only once ever to him. He said he was undefeated vs Davydenko. Djokovic, who beat Federer in the finals in Canada a few weeks prior, would have a tougher time in his first Grand Slam final with the added pressure and lack of experience. He was right again.  He didn’t get to talk about Nadal once Rafael got knocked out. 

Davydenko has never beaten Federer and asked/hoped for a lot of crowd support after his semi final match win against Haas. He sounded like he really didn’t have a chance in his own mind and the results showed. 

Djokovic seemed really positive especially raising his game this year and ranking to #3 in the world.  He said he was looking forward to his first final and no matter what, he will gain from it. 

Roddick didn’t know what to say as he played extremely well but was outplayed in the first 2 tiebreaker sets but tried to keep as positive as possible as he will now prepare for the Davis Cup semis in Sweden.

Blake was more disappointed as he had been playing better of late after a tough season.  He won the New Haven tournament the week before the open and felt great.  He squandered two match points and taking out a cramping Haas but mentioned he will come back and also get ready for the Davis Cup semis.

 

On the women’s side Justine Henin dominated on her way to her 7th Grand Slam title to ensure she is the #1 female player in the game now. She crushed #4 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-1, 6-3 to win her second US Open without dropping a set. The 25 year old defeated Serena and Venus Williams along the way. Up next are the Davis Cup semifinals September 21st weekend while Germany hosts Russia, the US will travel to Sweden with the winners of each advancing to the finals November 30-December 2nd. Federer and Djokovic will play for their countries in an effort to qualify for next year.

 

Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Julian Knowle of Austria won the Men’s Doubles Championship defeating Lukas Dlouhy and Pavel Vizner of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-4.

Aspelin will be part of the Doubles team vs. the US in the Davis Cup. Aspelin & Knowle also knocked off the Bryan Brothers of the USA in the quarterfinals.  The brothers will look for some revenge vs. Aspelin and Jonas Bjorkman in the critical Saturday doubles match then.  More info at www.daviscup.com

 

For the first time in the history of the event, US Open attendance topped 700,000, with the final total of 715,587 far surpassing the previous all-time high of 659,538 set in 2005. Attendance has grown by over 100,000 since 2000. Arthur Ashe Stadium seating was sold to 98% capacity, and the day/night combined total attendance topped 60,000 six days. The all-time day/night combined attendance record of 61,083 was set on Saturday, Sept. 1. The US Open remains the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world. For more information about the tournament/tickets for 2008, please visit www.usopen.org