2006 – 2007, US Open

US Open, New York
August 28-September 10, 2006; 128 Draw (32 seeds); Surface – Hard

This is a tournament broadly known as Andre Agassi’s farewell (the American played three matches on cortisone injections), but last appearances in Grand Slams delivered also other distinctive players: hard-serving former runners-up Greg Rusedski & Mark Philippoussis and Australian Open semifinalist Jiri Novak. Guillermo Coria – 11 years younger than Agassi – retired for the third time in his last four tournaments, and his career was actually over at the time as well… Roger Federer collected his third consecutive US Open title; Jimmy Connors came back professionally to the US Open after 14 years, this time in a new role – as a coach of Andy Roddick – whom he couldn’t help regaining the title lost in 2004 thoughThe 2006 US Open was the first Grand Slam event to feature the Hawk-Eye system.
All scorelines
First round: Howard Fendrich

henman_rusedski_uo06Tim Henman extended his good run against long-time rival and fellow Briton Greg Rusedski with victory in their first-round match at the US Open. Henman came through 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-3 in 1 hour 55 minutes for his seventh straight win over Rusedski, setting up a clash with top seed Federer. Rusedski went 3:0* up but Henman soon leveled before edging the tie-break. Henman broke twice in the 2nd set and then again at 3-all in the 3rd to wrap up a comfortable victory. “Once I got a set up I felt my game got better and better,” said Henman, who admitted that Rusedski’s hip injury had been a factor. “As he loses a little bit of strength in his hip, he wasn’t coming forward so much. I can exploit that a little bit more.” Their much more younger countryman, Andy Murray moved into the second round of the US Open with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Robert Kendrick on Wednesday. The Briton, who beat Kendrick 6-0, 6-0 in their only previous encounter, looked on course for another easy win when dominating the first set. “I knew it was going to be difficult,” Murray said. “Robert hits the ball pretty hard. He’s got a big serve. He’s pretty flashy, can hit some big winners.” Top seeds Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both won in straight sets Wednesday and did their part to help the U.S. Open get back on schedule as organizers tried to make up for the previous day’s rain when almost a full day’s play was lost. Federer only faced one break point and beat Taiwan’s Yeu-Tzuoo Wang 6-4, 6-1, 6-0 while Nadal won the first eight points and went to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Mark Philippoussis. “I thought I always was in control,” Federer said. “I always got to break first in the set, which always helps. I thought I played well, not too many mistakes.” No. 4 David Nalbandian also won, but had to rally from two sets down for a 4-6, 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Germany’s Michael Berrer in 3 hours 33 minutes. Nadal converted three of four break-point opportunities, while Philippoussis countered with 19 aces. “Philippoussis is a very big server,” Nadal said. “He served unbelievable, especially the first serve. Sometimes three aces in one game, two aces. But I was in the beginning very, very good. I play unbelievable first game. That’s important for the rest, for the confidence.” It was Philippoussis’ 204th and last main-level tournament. Jimmy Connors was back at the U.S. Open, back in the limelight, back in connors_uo06his element. Connors won this Grand Slam title five times as a player, and now he’s trying to win it as a coach, working with Andy Roddick. And, by the looks of things, everyone’s thrilled to have Connors back in the game, after years away from it. Surrounded by four ample bodyguards and a gaggle of reporters, Connors strode with a purpose on his way to an autograph session after watching Roddick win his first-round match Monday. Fans scrambled to catch a glimpse, reach for a handshake or simply yell good wishes. Roddick enlisted Connors last month, after a third-round exit at Wimbledon, and the partnership appears to be paying off, so far. Roddick says his attitude can’t help but be improved with the enthusiastic Connors in his corner, and the 2003 U.S. Open champion began the year’s last major by beating Florent Serra of France 6-2, 6-1, 6-3. “I enjoyed watching it. It’s been a long time since I’ve had those memories,” said Connors, a five-time Open champion who retired in 1993 with a record 109 singles titles. “It’s nice to see that Andy has his passion, his love for the game. He’s in it for one reason and that’s to win.” If Andre Agassi keeps this up, it’s going to be absolutely exhausting. For him, for his opponent, for his fans, for everyone at the U.S. Open. Knowing each time he steps on the court could be his last match as a pro, Agassi clearly does not want to go gently, and he kept overcoming deficits Monday night, pushing his 36-year-old body around Arthur Ashe Stadium for 3 ½ hours. Eventually, Agassi managed to win the first match of his final tournament, coming back to beat Andrei Pavel of Romania 6-7(4), 7-6(8), 7-6(6), 6-2 before an Open-record night session crowd of 23,736. Most were on their feet when Agassi’s eyes welled up with tears as he served out the final point after midnight. “You want it to be everything you hope it is,” Agassi said. “It was perfect.” There were moments, though, when it looked as if Agassi would be bidding adieu for good. After he lost the 1st set, for example. And especially when he fell behind 4:0 in the 3rd set, causing his wife, former star Steffi Graf, to pace a bit. “I thought,” Pavel said, ‘”I have him.'” Yet that’s when Agassi found the energy and shots to reverse things. Coincidence or not, he went on a five-game run shortly after motioning to his coach, Darren Cahill, to bring him more tightly strung rackets. It also was around that time that Pavel – a 32-year-old ranked 77th who hadn’t played a hard-court match since March – was visited by a trainer because of stomach cramps and diarrhea. Agassi provided some picture-perfect moments, pavel_agassi_uo06glimpses of his glorious past, of the player who’s won 60 singles titles. He smacked 17 aces at up to 125 mph. He took as big a cut as you’ll ever see on some ground-strokes, as though putting whatever energy he might have left into each swing. He used what was often considered his trademark, the hard-hit return, to gain the advantage at times. One example: he turned around a 123 mph serve with a backhand return right at the baseline that Pavel couldn’t handle, giving Agassi a 9:8 edge in the 2nd tiebreaker (Pavel had a set point in that tie-break). “He’s still one of the fittest guys on tour,” Pavel said. “He’s amazing.” Pavel fought hard in the 3rd set tiebreak, saving three set points from 6:3 down before the American finished it with an inside-out forehand service return winner to clinch it 8/6. “It was pretty bleak there in the middle of that third set,” said Agassi. Over and over, Pavel would end points with short drop shots that Agassi wouldn’t even chase. Agassi double-faulted eight times. And as much of a baseline tactician as Agassi always has been, it was Pavel who had the better of many of their lengthy ground-stroke exchanges, winning 14 of 21 points that lasted 10 strokes or longer through the first two sets. James Blake isn’t so sure he likes the idea that Vince Spadea, a former top-20 player, wrote a book about life on the tennis tour. Spadea makes mention of Blake in the book, and the fifth-seeded Blake was asked about it after beating Juan Monaco of Argentina in straight sets at the U.S. Open on Wednesday. “I would never bring other guys into it without either their approval or just letting them know that something from the tour is going to be put in a book,” Blake said. “I feel like in writing that book, he may have made a mistake and may have kind of rubbed a few people the wrong way and not made so many friends in the locker room.” Blake beat Monaco 6-3, 7-5, 7-6(7) – the American came back from a 3:5* deficit in the 2nd set, then led 5:2 in the 3rd with two breaks of serve, but Monaco won four games in a row. In the coria_uo06tie-break Blake converted his third match point. Ryan Sweeting is ranked 495th and got into the Open with a ‘wild card’ from the U.S. Tennis Association. Depending on how things go in New York, he’ll decide whether to turn pro or return to the University of Florida for his sophomore year. Guillermo Coria was hurt in the third game of the match, and quit after five games. “I wish we could have played the whole match out and seen what would have happened,” Sweeting said. Coria, a Top 10 player in years 2003-05 completely lost his form in 2006, struggling to win matches even on his favorite clay-courts, and that retirement against Sweeting virtually finished his career. In the next two season he played just 13 tournaments and called it a career at the age of 26.

Second round: Amalie Benjamin

blake_uo06From the Day-Glo spandex tights to the hot pink vertical bars on his shirt to the white bandanna wrapped atop his head, James Blake paid tribute to Agassi at the U.S. Open on Friday. Blake donned the sort of garish ensemble that Agassi – Mr. Image Is Everything – dared to wear more than a decade ago and, fortunately for Blake, his game looked better than his garb in a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(5) victory over Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia. His getup was appreciated by the crowd. Before the coin toss, fans chanted, “Andre! Andre!” and Blake turned to give them a thumbs-up. “I just wanted to do it once. I know Andre, how he probably doesn’t want a ton of fanfare,” said Blake, who got Agassi’s OK for the outfit. “Andre knows we all do care about him, we all appreciate everything he’s done. I think the statement was made. Now it’s back to business at hand.” Top-seeded Roger Federer beat Tim Henman 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 yesterday, punctuating his victory with a moving, behind-the-back volley between his legs. Federer won in rather routine fashion. Except for that one sensational volley. Caught in between steps, Federer skipped to his right, reached around his back and zinged a shot between his knees. Henman seemed surprised and, with both players already smiling, Federer smacked a winner to close the 4th game in the final set. “Rarely do you try this type of shot in a match,” Federer said. “In practice, it happens all the time. But to come and pull it off on Centre Court, you have to make sure you’re not doing something totally stupid or you don’t look like an idiot.” Andre Agassi and 23,700 or so of his closest friends went through all sorts of highs and lows, as he built a big lead then faced a sudden deficit, as he looked set to extend his career then teetered on the verge of ending it. Through all that, through nearly four hours of thrilling tennis, Agassi – 36 years old and burdened by a bad back – held up better than the kid across the net. And so he plays on. Buoyed by a cortisone injection, along with a raucous, sellout crowd that boosted his spirits when things looked bleak, Agassi kept his final tournament going by beating eighth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5 at the U.S. Open. With Agassi’s first serve suffering from inaccuracy, Baghdatis forced him to hold in the 8th game of the 1st set, with Agassi already up a break. Baghdatis, with power in his strokes, got the game to a second ‘deuce’. But it was then, in a lengthy and impressive point, that Baghdatis slipped on the court, going down hard on his left wrist. He bounced up, barely having touched the ground, quickly enough to get to the net for a winner and an advantage. That was almost it, the injury shorting out his game, accuracy, and balance, helping put Agassi up two quick sets. They thought it was done, then. Everyone did. Agassi couldn’t lose to this upstart player, this 21-year-old who was just a year old when Agassi made his Flushing Meadows debut in 1986. Baghdatis’ strokes went awry – 86 unforced errors (and 83 winners) – baghdatis_uo06and so did his game, until he regained his power for a two-set comeback that forced a deciding set (in the 4th set the Cypriot rallied from a 0:4 deficit!). Baghdatis started the decider with a break, but Agassi broke back with a stunning backhand stop-volley. With the final set tied 4:4 and the game at its first ‘deuce’, Baghdatis fell writhing to the court with cramps in both legs. By rule, he could not receive any medical treatment during the game, so Baghdatis hobbled around, somehow prolonging the game for 16 more points – eight ‘deuces’ and Agassi saved three mini-match points. Agassi seemed to be toying with his young opponent, mercilessly running him from side to side before finally disposing of him after the eighth deuce! Three games later, with his legs back under him and a chance to force a final-set tiebreaker, Baghdatis double-faulted twice in a row. The game, and the match, soon went to the old man. “I’ve lived a dream for 21 years,” Agassi said. “It’s going to be impossible for me to be disappointed with a result when you have that sort of support and feeling out there. This is why I chose here.” Baghdatis stated: “He plays great tennis even if he’s 36. Whatever you say, he’s a legend. He’s more than a legend…” Marat Safin tied Aaron Krickstein’s record of four matches won in the fifth set tie-break as he overcome David Nalbandian 6-3, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 7-6(6). Most matches have momentum and Nalbandian should have it now. But he doesn’t. Safin is fragile but dangerous. Nalbandian can’t dominate. He’s a cipher – a little pudgy, a little slow, and truth be told not such a stable character himself, but with the ability to keep the ball on his racket just long enough to sow doubt in Safin’s mind about where it’s going. The crowd now fills sun-bleached Armstrong Stadium. Safin wins the first game of the last set on serve. But Nalbandian wins the next, placing 106 mile per hour serves just so wide that Safin keeps missing them. Safin earns two chances to break at 4:3 (40/15), but Nalbandian outsmarts him, as usual. He serves down the middle. He’s hitting sharper, too. The pace has quickened. The match, which began in the late morning, is now more than 3 hours old and shadows have begun to fall over one end of the stands. The tiebreaker arrives, as if inevitably. Safin double-faults to start it. But he gets a couple of lucky breaks from the net. Nalbandian slams his racquet when a Safin forehand nicks the baseline for 5:1. The crowd is roaring. But Safin goes haywire again. He hits long, double faults, misses down the line. Nalbandian devises a cross-court forehand that catches the sideline. 5-all! The rest is a microcosm of the whole match: Safin smokes a return for match point (6:5). Then he blows an easy forehand (6:6). Then he crushes a service winner (7:6). Match point again. The crowd is safin_nalbandian_uo06laughing. Whatever Safin’s got, it’s contagious. Suddenly, out of the blue, for no good reason, on the verge of elimination, clutching from nerves, Nalbandian attempts a drop shot. Of all things. He tries ‘a Safin’. The ball meekly heads toward the net and falls backward. Match over. Safin looks stunned. Stunned, too, Nalbandian smashes a ball clear over the stadium wall, like a Barry Bonds homer, then retreats to his chair and slumps under a towel. Safin, raising his racket, gestures toward Nalbandian, in praise. He knows. He pulled a Houdini. “It’s like a lottery basically,” he says afterward. Second seed Rafael Nadal came through a tough test at the U.S. Open on Thursday, beating Peru’s Luis Horna 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round. The Spaniard, who has never been beyond the third round at Flushing Meadows, coped well with an inspired Horna before clinching victory in 2 hours, 43 minutes. “It was a very tough match,” Nadal said. “Luis was playing very well with his forehand and serve, so I am very happy with this victory.” Nadal looked set for an easy victory when he led by a set and a break, but Horna, ranked 61st, produced some outstanding tennis to break back in the 6th game and again in the 10th to level the match. The French Open champion saved two break points when serving for the 3rd set and then eased through the fourth to set up a clash with big-serving Wesley Moodie of South Africa, who fired just 9 aces defeating 27th seed Gael Monfils 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(4). Nadal was joined in the third round by compatriots Tommy Robredo and Fernando Verdasco. The kubot_uo06sixth seed, Robredo rallied for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win over Korean Hyung-Taik Lee, while the 22nd-seeded Verdasco posted a 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-1 over Thiago Alves of Brazil. Robredo will face Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka, who rallied from two sets and match point down to beat Robin Soderling 6-7(4), 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-0, 6-1. Former champion Lleyton Hewitt wasted little time in beating Czech Jan Hernych, as the 15th-seeded Australian posted a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win. He faces Serbian 20th seed Novak Djokovic, who withstood a strong challenge from American Mardy Fish to win 7-6(5), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(3). Qualifier Lukasz Kubot [138] became the first Pole since 1984 (Wojtek Fibak at Roland Garros) to reach ‘last 32’ of a major winning second consecutive five-setter. After eliminating Kristof Vliegen, Kubot, managed to overcome physical crisis in sets 3 & 4 to defeat Noam Okun 7-6(7), 6-4, 2-6, 2-6, 6-4 in 4 hours 20 minutes, winning 12 points fewer in total. In the 1st set, Polish player erased a *2:5 deficit.

Third round: (AP)

Crouched alone in the silence of the locker room, a pro tennis player no more, a red-eyed Andre Agassi twisted his torso in an attempt to conquer the seemingly mundane task of pulling a white shirt over his head. Never more than at that moment did Agassi seem so vulnerable, looking far becker_uo06older than his 36 years, wrestling not simply with his bad back but also with two overwhelming and conflicting emotions. There was the concrete sense of departure, of knowing his career came to an end Sunday with a 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 loss in 181 minutes to 112th-ranked Benjamin Becker in the third round at the U.S. Open. And there was the liberating sense of excitement, of knowing he has more time to devote to his wife, Steffi Graf, and their two children; of knowing there are no more flights to catch, no more practice sessions, no more injections to dull the searing pain of an irritated sciatic nerve. That’s why, for Agassi himself and the 20,000 or so fans who honored him with a raucous, four-minute standing ovation in Arthur Ashe Stadium agassi_uo06after the match, it truly did not matter all that much what Sunday’s outcome was. This day and this tournament were all about saying goodbye to an eight-time Grand Slam champion who grew up in front of the world, from cocky kid with the shoulder-length hair and denim shorts to the thoughtful guy with the shaved pate and proper tennis whites. “The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what it is I’ve found,” Agassi told the crowd, tears streaming down his cheeks, his voice cracking with emotion. “Over the last 21 years, I’ve found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I have found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed sometimes even in my lowest moments.” Talk about matching bookends: Agassi played the very first of his record 61 Grand Slam tournaments at the U.S. Open in 1986, losing to Jeremy Bates, who was ranked outside the top 100 at the time. Since then, Agassi was 24-0 at the Open against men rated that low – until Sunday. But Agassi couldn’t conjure up any more magic in his 21st consecutive Open, an event he won in 1994 and 1999. His back – and Becker – wouldn’t let him. Over and over, Agassi would pull up short, watching a ball fly by instead of chasing it. He winced after serves, clutched his lower back after stretching to reach for shots. “I wanted to run on the court and pull him off,” said Agassi’s trainer, Gil Reyes, “because it shouldn’t hurt – it shouldn’t hurt that bad.” There were times, as his limp grew more pronounced, when it seemed quite likely that Agassi wouldn’t be able to complete the match; his father, who turned him into a tennis player as a tot, had said he hoped Agassi wouldn’t try to play Sunday and wasn’t in attendance. “If I wanted to quit,” Agassi said, “I would have done that a long time ago. I didn’t come here to quit. I just credit the doctors that I was able to get out there today. It’s been such a day-by-day battle. Sure enough, it was real early where I wasn’t feeling so good,” he said, then smiled and added: “That all doesn’t matter anymore.” Despite the severe pain, Agassi almost pulled to the decider – he had a set point in the 4th set when Becker’s second serve caught the line to give him a service winner (the German fired 27 aces in the end; Agassi served 20). Andy Murray came from two sets to one down to earn a thrilling 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Fernando Gonzalez in the third round of the US Open. The Chilean, combining a degree of guile with his murray_uo06devastating power, looked in complete control as he cruised into a two sets to one lead. But Murray proved he has added match toughness to his undoubted talent. Series of magnificent returns allowed him to break at 4:3. He carried the momentum into the 5th set and at 5:1 had to keep his composure as a storm erupted at the other end of the court. Gonzalez, who had already been warned for breaking his racket in the previous game, was docked a point for smashing a ball out of the stadium and had several long arguments with the umpire as the crowd voiced their support for the Chilean. Murray rallied and accepted the thunderous cheers from the intimate stadium crowd, pounding his chest and pointing to his coach, Brad Gilbert, in thanks. “I want to try my best to make him proud,” Murray said. It was an emotional turnaround for Murray, who called yesterday his “saddest day of tennis” because of Agassi’s retirement. “I was genuinely really upset before I went on to play,” he said. “I find it quite difficult to concentrate because I didn’t realize how much he meant to the whole of tennis and to me growing up until I saw him play his last point.” Two-time defending champion Roger Federer crushed American Vince Spadea 6-3. 6-3, 6-0 in an evening match. Federer will play unseeded Marc Gicquel of France for a place in the quarter-finals. Gicquel came through a tough five-setter against former French Open winner Gaston Gaudio 6-0, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(3). The Argentine ahd led 3:1 in the deciding tie-break before Gicquel took the last six points. It was the Swiss star’s 17th straight win at Flushing Meadows and moves him another step closer to becoming just the third man in the Open era after John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl to win a hat-trick of US Open titles. Minutes after hugging the newly retired Agassi in the locker room, Andy Roddick took his place in Arthur Ashe Stadium against a dangerous left-hander, Fernando Verdasco of Spain. Restless, but focused, Roddick traded sets with Verdasco, all the while pumping his fist, tugging on his cap, slapping his thigh, yelling in anguish and exultation and jump-skipping to the net. He never wanted to sit long on changeovers. But on the strength of his serve and key errors from the 22-year-old Verdasco in the final set, the ninth-seeded Roddick advanced to the fourth round of the United States Open with a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-2 victory. Only then could he say that he was torn by regret and relief. If Agassi had beaten Ben.Becker, Roddick would have met him next. “Obviously, you want to play against your idols, but then again you don’t want to be the guy who shot nadal_uo06Bambi,” Roddick, 24, said. “I would have gone in feeling like a foreigner here in this stadium, I’m sure. I wouldn’t have been angry about it at all.” Safin’s close friend, the 23rd-seeded Dmitry Tursunov, did not fare in his five-set match. Twenty-year-old Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, seeded 12th, ended Tursunov’s bid, 6-7(2), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Richard Gasquet of France, also 20, defeated Marco Chiudinelli, 7-6(2), 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(2). Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 Open champion, defeated the up-and-comer Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Montenegro, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2. Second-seeded Rafael Nadal progressed to the tournament’s fourth round for the first time in his career, subduing the big-serving Wesley Moodie of South Africa, 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-6(4) in 2 hours 49 minutes. Nadal is seeking to reach his third Grand Slam final of the year. He successfully defended his French Open title with a victory over world No. 1 Federer, but fell to Federer in the final of Wimbledon. Against Moodie, Nadal withstood a double set point serving at 4:5 (15/40) in the 2nd set. “This tournament is very special for me,” Nadal said. “I reached the fourth round, which is good, and I am improving on hard courts.” Fifth-seeded James Blake battled Carlos Moya past midnight on Arthur Ashe Stadium before prevailing, 6-4, 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3. In the tie-break Blake saved a quadruple set point.

Fourth round: Greg Garber

In the crucible of the fifth and ultimate set, where conditioning and confidence rule, James Blake and Tomas Berdych are at opposite ends of the spectrum that defines grace under pressure. Heading into Wednesday’s round-of-16 match at the U.S. Open, they had each gone the distance blake_uo06_nine times, but Berdych was 9-0 and Blake was 0-9 – the best and tied for worst five-set records in the Open Era. That is a heavy, heavy number, and maybe it’s why Blake came out swinging with an elevated sense of urgency. Looking at last like his soaring 2005 self, Blake knocked the big-hitting 20-year-old from the Czech Republic off the court, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. The match required only 97 minutes. It was Berdych, not Blake, who failed in the big moments, double-faulting on set point in the first and second frames. Berdych had 15 break-point opportunities and, incredibly, failed to convert one. Last year, Blake also won his first four matches, then ran into Agassi in the quarterfinals. This time around, he gets Roger Federer, who is not only the best player in the world, but has the additional motivation of attempting a rare three-peat. “If I play my best, then I don’t see any reason why I can’t win,” Blake said with a straight face. “But if he’s playing his best, then I can see a reason why I might not win, but…” Blake’s face broke into a smile. “It’s possible,” he continued. “I mean, he lost to Murray in Cincinnati. He’s lost before. He is human. So I’ve got to go out there and see what I can do.” Top seed Federer rolled to his fourth consecutive straight-sets victory with a 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3 triumph over France’s Marc Gicquel at the US Open this morning. Federer, seeking his third-straight Open title, won the first three games of the match without losing a point, before the 29-year-old Gicquel settled down and fought gamely. The U.S. Open did proceed without Agassi, although a fan cried out, “Do it for Andre!” during Andy Roddick‘s fourth-round match. Roddick obliged, putting together a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Benjamin Becker, the German qualifier who ended Agassi’s career the day before. “If you can’t draw motivation from six months of bad results,” Roddick said, “then you’re not going to draw it from much.” He moves on to a rematch from the 2001 quarterfinals against that year’s champion, Lleyton Hewitt, who got past No. 25 Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted more than 3 ½ hours and ended at 12:53 a.m. Tuesday on Arthur Ashe Stadium. That main court was the scene of Agassi’s last hurrah, a four-set defeat against the unheralded and 112th-ranked Becker on Sunday. “It was tough yesterday for me to enjoy it, because it was tough for me to accept that I deserved to be the last guy that Agassi played,” said Becker, competing in his second major. “It’s been a pretty, pretty amazing trip for me.” He was physically and emotionally roddick_uo06drained, but he might not have had much of a chance, anyway, given how well Roddick served. Roddick won 57 of 70 points in his service games, was stretched to ‘deuce’ only once, and ended the 1st set this way: 137 mph ace, 100 mph ace, 145 mph ace, 142 mph service winner. Roddick was a bit anxious about how things would go with Connors, who’s been pretty much out of the game since retiring in the early 1990s. But Roddick uses words like “refreshing” and “invigorating” when discussing Connors’ effect on him. “Maybe it’s been a while since he’s just been one of the boys, playing pool and poker and hanging out,” said Roddick, on track for a semifinal against No. 2 Rafael Nadal, a 6-1, 7-6(3), 6-4 winner over Jiri Novak. “We’d practice, he’d come home, kick his feet up on my couch, have a beer. It was pretty surreal.” continued Roddick about his relation with Connors. Novak’s [179] last appearance in a Grand Slam event, he played just three main-level tournaments afterwards. German Tommy Haas edged out his practice partner Marat Safin 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(5) on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open for the second time in three years. Haas’ second consecutive fifth set tie-break win in a match he was two points away from defeat! Former haas_uo06champion Safin led 3:1 in the deciding tie-break but 14th seed Haas came back to win the last two points of the match and set up a clash with another Russian Nikolay Davydenko. “I’m really excited that I am back in the quarter-finals once again,” Haas said. “Basically it was just the last two points – it is a flip of a coin when you get a fifth-set tie-break.” Twice Safin led by a set but Haas, who beat Robby Ginepri on a fifth-set tie-break in round three, took advantage of a loose set from the Russian to force the decider. Neither man could earn a break point in the 5th set but Safin missed a simple volley at 3:1 in the tie-break and Haas held his nerve to clinch victory on his first match point. Andy Murray‘s hopes of a first Grand Slam quarter-final ended in disappointment when he was beaten 6-1, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 by seventh seed Davydenko. Resuming at two sets to one (Murray led 2:0* having two break points in the 3rd set before losing five straight games) after the fourth-round match was held over from Tuesday because of rain, Murray made 13 unforced errors in the 4th set and Davydenko cruised to victory. The 19-year-old Scot was broken in the 1st game of the fourth set and from then on he was always playing catch-up. Davydenko, who had never before been beyond the third round at the U.S. Open, broke again in the 3rd and 5th games and served out. “When I get nervous, maybe I speak a little too much. Something that hopefully I’ll stop because it’s definitely not good for my tennis,” said Murray, “He started off better than me both days. That’s something I’ll have to learn from. I’m not used to going on at 11 a.m. for matches.”

Quarterfinals: (AP)

Even as he was giving Roger Federer fits, James Blake felt the need to shout what so many were thinking: “You’re too good!” The top-seeded Federer dropped a set and had a hard time putting away No. 5 Blake before finishing a 7-6(7), 6-0, 6-7(9), 6-4 victory on Thursday night at the U.S. Open to reach a record-tying 10th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal. “There’s just too many things he does well. He doesn’t panic. He plays offense unbelievably well. He plays defense better than anyone I’ve ever played.” summed up Blake. The highest-ranked American did not go quietly, saving a total of three match points and breaking Federer twice when he served for the match, at 5:3 (30-all) in the 3rd set and 5:2 in the 4th, celebrating the latter with a little strut. “I take pride in the way I fought,” Blake said. “It’s a good feeling to know that I’m close to Roger. I guess he’s human.” Right until the very end, Blake kept pushing, holding a break point and staving off two match points in the final game. Blake also saved a match point in the 3rd-set tiebreaker (8:9 –  Federer held match point after a 30-stroke exchange ended with Blake dumping a backhand into the net; but Blake extended the match with a backhand winner down the line), and certainly had other chances: he wasted three set points in the opening tiebreaker (6:4, 7:6) and three break points at 1:0 in the 4th set. “The score says it all,” said Federer. “The match could have been easier, it could have been tougher.” Federer, the two-time defending champion, advanced to a semifinal Saturday against davydenko_uo06No. 7 Nikolay Davydenko, who dropped the first two sets in a half-empty stadium, then came back to beat No. 14 Tommy Haas 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in 3 hours 42 minutes. There is someone who plays more tennis than Federer, although he doesn’t win as much: Davydenko, who’s 54-22 this year. So a five-set test of wills seemed a fitting way for the Russian to work his way into the semifinals. Maybe now he’ll get some more attention. “Who cares about Davydenko?” he imagined fans saying. “He didn’t win a Grand Slam, was not No. 1.” It’s surprising that Davydenko will still be around to play his tour-leading 77th match of the season, given that he failed to get past the third round at the U.S. Open before. He did make a major semifinal at the 2005 French Open. He and Haas both looked fatigued as their match stretched on, and the German might have been feeling the effects of needing to go to fifth-set tiebreakers in each of the previous two rounds. Haas yelled, “Giddyup!” as he emerged from the locker room before the match, but by the end, he was a step slow. Davydenko appeared to have the match wrapped up when he surged *5:2 in the 5th set clear but he failed to serve out at the first opportunity and slipped 15/40 serving at 5:4. But Haas, who had earlier received treatment to his thigh, could not complete a miraculous recovery as the Russian found his first serve to take his place in the last four. “I think I was lucky,” he said afterwards. “But it was tough, I was 5:2 in the final set then break point and 5:4 and I didn’t know what I could do, but I am happy to be in the semi-finals.” Haas said: “My legs started to give out a bit. My body didn’t feel good anymore. I couldn’t do the small steps to stand well to the balls.” Davydenko had in the match break points in six games and won them all. Unseeded Mikhail Youzhny [54] caused a huge upset in putting out second seed Rafael Nadal in the last eight of the US Open. The 24-year-old Russian, playing in his first-ever Grand Slam quarter-final, beat Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-1. The crunch point of a bruising match at Flushing Meadows came when Youzhny saved three consecutive set points in the 3rd set at *4:5 before winning it on a tie-break. Youzhny ran away with the 4th set to clinch victory youzhny_uo06in 3 hours and 16 minutes. Nadal is the third Spanish seed Youzhny has beaten at this year’s US Open after wins over sixth seed Robredo and eleventh seed Ferrer. Despite his defeat, Nadal was happy with the way he had played. “Maybe I played my best match in New York here today,” said the 20-year-old. “I am happy with my tennis, but I was not playing with my best calm in the important moments.” Youzhny will now play Andy Roddick for a place in Sunday’s final. Roddick was in awesome form in Wednesday’s night match, storming past fellow ex-champion Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets. The American blasted his way to a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 win. Fifteenth seed Hewitt tried to stay with Roddick and had a set point in the 2nd set but was ultimately outplayed by a fired-up opponent. “He came out serving so well and didn’t give me too many looks at second serves,” said Hewitt, who saw 17 aces whistle past him. Roddick, who looked very emotional and pumped up after his victory, admitted he was relieved to rediscover his top form. “I’m in a little bit of shock. It’s been a rough six months for me. I haven’t played too well,” said Roddick, who teamed up with Jimmy Connors earlier this summer.

Semifinals: BBC

Defending champion Roger Federer crushed Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 yesterday to reach the US Open final. The world No. 1, looking for his third consecutive US Open title, crushed the Russian seventh seed in 1 hour 43 minutes to become the first man in the Open Era to reach six straight Grand Slam finals. “I played a great first set and I thought I played really well today,” Federer said. “Again in the final is a great feeling and it’s great to be in the final of all four majors this year.” The Swiss set the tone by breaking in the 2nd game as he cruised through the 1st set in 22 minutes, keeping Davydenko off balance with a series of short, sliced backhands. Davydenko recovered early breaks in the 2nd and 3rd sets but it was not enough to stop Federer cruising fed_davy_uo06through to a final today. Davydenko had never beaten Federer in seven previous meetings though he pushed him to a fourth-set tie-break in their last match, in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Yesterday, he was never allowed to find his rhythm as Federer varied the pace and angle of his attacks. “In Australia, I had control from the baseline but today he was hitting too fast,” Davydenko said. “Today was short points and he tried to hit faster. It’s really different tennis. He’s No. 1. That’s why I think he’s winning everything, because he plays completely different.” Having reached his second Grand Slam semifinal, Davydenko said he was satisfied with his efforts: “Okay, I’m happy to be in the semifinals. I am disappointed with my play, but not for losing.” As the shadows lengthened in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday, Andy Roddick put down Mikhail Youzhny, a spirited Russian who is ranked No. 54 in the world, 6-7(5), 6-0, 7-6(3), 6-3, in the U.S. Open semifinals. “Andy has a great serve,” Youzhny observed. “If Andy can serve really well, he has a chance. But I think 70 percent is to Roger, 30 for Andy.” What does Roddick have to do to win? “I never beat Roger,” Youzhny said, laughing. “I don’t know.” Has Roddick found enough variety in his game to hang with the biggest dog? Not based on Saturday’s returns. The consensus around the grounds – even correcting for home-field American bias – was that Roddick would need only three sets to romp into the final, maybe four if the Russian could eke out a tiebreaker. Youzhny was making his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal appearance (compared to Roddick’s seventh) and was bidding to become the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist since ATP rankings were created 33 years ago. But in tennis, match-ups are everything. And Youzhny happens to be a terrific returner of serve. This, combined with Roddick’s odd insistence on forcing the issue at net, gave Youhzny the 1st set. At 6:5 in the tiebreaker, Roddick came in behind a not-deep-enough approach shot and Youzhny hit a roddick_youzhny_uo06rocket that Roddick’s backhand volley couldn’t keep in the court. But even as those in the now-nervous crowd at Ashe were revising their calculations, Roddick bageled Youzhny (a verb that, for good reason, appears only in tennis) in a scant 22 minutes to level the match. Roddick served better and Youzhny visibly tightened. The 3rd set was a replay of the first, except that Roddick won the tiebreaker. With the score 3:3, Roddick smoked a 139 mph serve and then won the set with a sensational piece of defense. His lunging, slashing forehand slice trapped Youzhny at the service line, and the indecisive Russian couldn’t pull off an awkward half-volley. A deep backhand down the line led to another Youzhny error and Roddick’s unreturnable serve gave him his first lead. Serving to level the fourth set at 3:4, Youzhny finally cracked. He lost 10 straight points, and when he finally rallied with three winners with Roddick serving for the match, it was too late. Appropriately, the new-and-improved Roddick won his fourth match point standing at the net, with a soft forehand volley. “It means the world to me,” said Roddick. “After the first set I tried to step into my shots a little. I took a page out of a guy named Andre Agassi’s book and stepped inside the baseline.”

Final: Steve Bierley

The records continue to flow off the racket of Roger Federer, who last night defeated Andy Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 to become the first man in history to win the US Open and Wimbledon titles back to back in three successive years. This was also his ninth Grand Slam title, placing him clear in sixth place of the all-time greats. So it was small wonder that Tiger Woods, watching from courtside, smiled so broadly. This was a super champion recognizing a super champion. The two met for the first time before the final began, and Woods’ presence may have put a little extra pressure on Federer. How could he possibly lose in front of golf’s greatest? The Swiss began with a rush, but it was to Roddick’s huge credit that he put the past aside – just one win in 10 previous meetings – and rocked Federer on to his heels. Jimmy Connors, the five-times US Open champion, has been restoring Roddick’s frayed confidence since Wimbledon, attempting to simplify his game and put the accent on his strengths, namely his colossal and withering power. Roddick had promised to put everything on the line, and did. “I want to make a war of it,” he had said on Saturday after winning his semi-final against Youzhny. It was a laudable idea, but roddick_uo06the start was exactly what Roddick did not want. Federer held his serve with graceful ease and then broke the American’s, nailing the 2:0 lead with a majestic forehand down the line. Roddick appeared mentally sluggish and heavy-legged, getting drawn into rallies that were far longer than he would have liked. The best match that Roddick had previously played against Federer was the 2004 Wimbledon final when the American, for a federer_uo06set and half, hit the ball and served with devastating power. “It was one of the best matches I’ve played and lost,” he ruefully admitted. The SW19 Centre Court had seen nothing like it before, and neither had the Swiss. Yet in the end Federer’s greater variety held sway, as it did last night. He is a fabulous champion. As against Davydenko in his semi-final, initially Federer began to draw Roddick towards the net, an area of the court that has been the American’s equivalent of somebody with vertigo being on top of the Empire State building. At this time there was nothing in Roddick’s play to suggest he believed he could win. The crowd willed him to respond and finally, at *0:5, he managed a game, one serve of 140 mph almost drilling Federer in two. Shocked, the Swiss dropped his own serve and Roddick skipped back to his chair. It was fool’s gold, and Federer had the 1st set pocketed inside half an hour. But Roddick had seen a glimmer of hope. He needed to stay pumped up, as he had been from the start of the tournament. “You can do it, Andy,” came the guttural yell as Roddick bludgeoned the Federer serve at the start of the 2nd set. The crowd were energized and so was the American, who held for 2:0*. Now it was a war. Roddick was playing at his best, and it was Federer who had to regroup, scratching his chin contemplatively as he stared back down the court. Whereas Federer broke the Roddick serve three times in the opening set, he had barely the sniff of a chance in the second and clearly felt the pressure. He had experienced the force of the New York crowd against him last year when he beat federer_uo06championAgassi, and now they were fully in his ears again. The turnaround had been dramatic, and now it was a question of whether Roddick could maintain his high level of energy and hitting power against the best player in the world for long enough to inflict the upset. He could not. At 2:2 in the 3rd Federer was 0/40, brought it back to ‘deuce’, and then presented Roddick with another opportunity to break. He failed, although Federer had to dig to subterranean depths. But it was crucial. Power can be paralyzing, and it took huge serves by Roddick to keep himself in the next game as Federer attempted to jump on the American’s disappointment. Both men realized just how crucial this period of the match might prove. Roddick held, saving five break points for 3-all and patting his heart in relief when one lob fell just wide. So it went, nip and tuck, until Roddick served at 5:6 to take the set into a tie-break. Two forehand errors and a backhand winner drove him to the precipice, and the set was lost when the American, hurtling forward, volleyed into the net. Huge was Federer’s roar. The rest was a formality. Federer was in his pomp. “I think you have to look at the tournament as a whole and I’ve played some great shots all the way,” said Federer. “It’s been absolutely fantastic. I’m glad it all worked out because tonight was very difficult against Andy. I’m really happy to see him back at the top and I’m really happy to play against him.” Roddick said: “It’s been a rough year and the past two weeks make it all worthwhile.” The Swiss was 9-1 in Grand Slam finals after the US Open 2006, it was his 41st title. Stats of the final


US Open, New York
August 27-September 9, 2007; 128 Draw (32 seeded); Surface – Hard

20-year-old Novak Djokovic had won two big titles on hardcourts in 2007 (Miami & Montreal), and confirmed his exceptional skills on this surface reaching his first Grand Slam final, in which he would have hypothetically been a victor if had converted his chances in two opening sets against Roger Federer. James Blake improves his embarrassing record in five-setters to 1-9.
All scorelines
First round: Ben Walker

Roger Federer played like No. 1 seed Monday and Nikolay Davydenko was a sure thing, too, on the opening day of the U.S. Open. The final Grand Slam event of the season started on a sparkling morning, and Federer was his usual sharp self. Trying to become the first man in the Open era to take this title four straight times, the Swiss star got off to the right start – he won the coin toss to serve. He then held serve all match and beat qualifier Scoville Jenkins 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. “It’s nice to be into the second round. It always feels like a bit of a relief,” Federer said. Over on the grandstand court, Davydenko attracted his share of attention for something besides groundstrokes and Grand Slams. After the fourth-seeded Russian breezed past Jesse Levine 6-4, 6-0, 6-1, he faced questions about how his name surfaced in a recent gambling investigation. During a match in Poland this month, Davydenko lost to 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello, retiring because of injury in the deciding set. A British on-line gambling company voided all bets on the match after receiving about $7 million in wagers, 10 times the usual amount. Davydenko, speaking in broken but understandable English, denied any involvement. “I try to say every week, I don’t do anything like this,” he said. “I never did.” Davydenko said he expected to talk to investigators – he wasn’t sure which ones – after the China Open next month. “It’s pretty tough for mirnyi_uo07me, somebody talking about gambling,” he said. “I don’t know how long I have more questions about it. Maybe all year.” The U.S. Open hired a security firm run by Howard Safir, a former New York City police commissioner, to oversee the event and guard against gambling problems. Max Mirnyi of Belarus successfully used one of his instant-replay challenges to beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(6) and Feliciano Lopez downed Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in an all-Spanish matchup. Baghdatis’s serve broke down on him today: his first-serve percentage was at 36 percent. In a 4th-set tie-break, Baghdatis (after saving a couple of match points earlier) was up 5:1 & 6:5*, but ultimately lost 8/6. For the 30-year-old Mirnyi it was his last participation in a Grand Slam tournament in singles, and the last match he won (in the second round was beaten in four sets by Sebastien Grosjean). The Belarussian played the most eentertaining major matches of his career in New York… Andy Roddick beat his countryman Justin Gimelstob in straight sets 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the US Open. “I could have cut down the errors a little on the baseline, but Justin makes it awkward because he’s coming toward you at the net,” Roddick said. Suffering from chronic back problems, Gimelstob plans on retiring after participating in three more tournaments this year. “I know I can’t compete at this level anymore,” he said. “It was hard enough to compete when I was healthy.” Indeed, Gimelstob (Mirnyi’s peer) played three tournaments afterwards and retired, pursued a career in sports commentary, working for Tennis Channel. Novak Djokovic‘s impressive summer on hard courts continued in style. The third seed rolled into the second round with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Robin Haase, who was only playing after a shoulder injury to Mario Ancic meant he was invited into the draw as a lucky loser. “It’s always good to get the first matches done in the fastest possible way,” Djokovic said. “It’s good to win in the first round in straight sets.” Djokovic will have to get past Rafael Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt if he is to get to the final and Hewitt got off to a strong start with an easy win over Amer Delic, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. “It was a matter of mixing it up when I had the opportunity, come in on his backhand, make him press,” Hewitt said. There were also wins for James Blake (took a revenge on Michael Russell for three defeats on a Challener level), Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela and Ivan Ljubicic, although No. 32 seed Ivo Karlovic, despite serving 38 aces, was upset by Arnaud Clement 7-6(5), 6-4, 4-6, 6-7(6), 6-4 in a match that lasted over four hours. On Monday, wild cards Donald Young, 18, and John Isner, 22, scored impressive first Grand Slam wins. Young, a heralded teen from Atlanta, beat Chris Guccione of Australia 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. Isner [186], who turned pro in June after leading Georgia to the NCAA championship, isner_uo07upset No. 26 seed Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-4 in 3 hours 8 minutes. Isner struck 36 aces, saved all seven break points, and escaped from a potential two-sets-to-love down being *5:6 (0/30) in the 2nd set.  Another wild card, 21-year-old Wayne Odesnik, had a five-set win Tuesday against Danai Udomchoke of Thailand – Odesnik’s first win in three trips to New York. “This is the most optimism we’ve had in a while with some young guys,” U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe says. Bucking the trend Tuesday was Sam Querrey. The 19-year-old Californian, the third-youngest player in the top 100 at No. 48, squandered six set points in a tight 1rst set before unraveling in a 7-6(1), 6-1, 6-1 loss to Stefan Koubek of Austria. Otherwise, the 6’6 Querrey has had a fine summer following a rough patch from May to June when he lost in the first round of six consecutive events. “My goal at the beginning of the year was to be top 50,” Querrey says. “I’m already there. Hopefully I can just keep going.” On the eve of the United States Open, Rafael Nadal was preparing to take the next flight home to Spain. His left knee was so painful after practicing Sunday, it was “impossible,” according to his uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, for him to play. Nadal, the world’s No. 2-ranked player, found himself battling on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court against the unseeded and little known Alun Jones, a 27-year-old from Australia making his Open debut. Jones had broken Nadal for a 4:3 lead in the 3rd set, moving two games away from a two-sets-to-one lead. But Nadal called for the trainer, had the tape on his left knee replaced, and quietly gritted out a first-round victory, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, that cast a shadow on his remaining Open path. “Maybe if I am in another tournament, I never go to the court today,” Nadal said. His section of the draw had its share of first-round intrigue. No. 7 Fernando Gonzalez, the Australian Open finalist, lost to safin_uo07Teimuraz Gabashvili, 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 5-7, 6-4. But Marat Safin, the 2000 United States Open champion, who is seeded 25th, had an easier time, defeating Frank Dancevic, 7-5, 7-6(5), 7-6(7). Dancevic had two set points in the final tiebreaker but Safin fought back and sealed the first-round victory with an ace on his second match point. Seven years after beating Pete Sampras for the title, Safin’s only other Grand Slam title came in the Australian Open in 2005, battling injuries and his emotions. Was that Open match against Sampras the best of his career? “Yeah, but who cares?” Safin said. “It’s so far in the past. It’s already history. It’s a long time ago. It’s time to move on.Fernando Verdasco for the second time in 2007 left the court as a winner over Paul-Henri Mathieu despite losing the first two sets: in Melbourne thanks to retirement of the Frenchman in a 3rd set tie-break, this time after a five-setter which won 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Second round: Liz Robbins

No matter the setting, no matter how well he played, James Blake simply couldn’t figure out how to win a fifth set. And when he finally prevailed in a match that went the distance, ending an 0-for-9 drought, Blake was too exhausted to celebrate wildly, instead simply raising his arms in the air and slowly walking to the net for a sweat-soaked – and sweet – embrace with his opponent. The No. 6-seeded Blake outlasted Fabrice Santoro 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the second round of the U.S. Open to win a 3-blake_uo07hour, 25-minute struggle that began Thursday evening and ended after midnight Friday. “There used to be a big monkey right there,” Blake said, pointing to his back, “and now it’s gone. I got the monkey off my back. I got a five-setter.” Santoro, at 34 the oldest man left in the tournament, faded down the stretch. At 4:4 in the fifth, he held three break points – and Blake saved them all. Then, in the final game, Santoro led 30-love on his serve – and Blake took the final four points. “To the last point, I thought I had a good chance,” Santoro said. “He was tired, but I was for sure more tired.” “I actually, honestly said to myself at the beginning of the fifth set: ‘I’m going to win this match,'” Blake said. “The whole five-set jinx never got into my head. But this time, I said, ‘I’m not going to let it happen.'” Roger Federer took the second step in his quest for a fourth successive US Open title by routing qualifier Paul Capdeville of Chile 6-1 6-4 6-4 to reach the third round at the National Tennis Center. The world No.1, looking to register his 12th grand slam title in his drive to eclipse the record 14 won by Pete Sampras, needed just 89 minutes to advance. The fifth seed, Andy Roddick celebrating his 25th birthday, had dropped the first set but was leading 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 when Jose Acasuso quit with a left knee injury. “It’s unfortunate that Jose hurt his knee. He played a very good first set,” said Roddick. “It’s not the way you want to get through.” Roddick will face Sweden’s Thomas Johansson who beat Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-7(9), 7-6(1) after wasting two match points in the 3rd set. Fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko posted a surprisingly one-sided 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer. Ninth seed Tomas Berdych completed a straightforward victory over Italy’s Simone Bolelli, winning 7-5, 6-3, 6-3, while Tommy Haas overcame a spirited effort from fellow German Philipp Petzschner to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. Korean Hyung-Taik Lee moved to the third round after upsetting 14th seed Guillermo Canas 7-5, 7-5, 6-3. Lee, 31, is enjoying his most consistent season yet having reached 43 in the world rankings. “I’m over 30 but I still want to be a winner in tennis,” he said. Agustin Calleri smacked winners from all parts of the court to send Lleyton Hewitt crashing out of the US Open. Australia’s 2001 champion went down 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in 2 hours and 42 minutes to make his earliest exit from the US Open in nine appearances.  Calleri had mixed 31 clean winners with 27 unforced errors at that stage. In the 3rd set when he blazed his away to an early break and then peeled off five-straight winners from 0/40 to hold for 2:0. British murray_uo07number one Andy Murray came through a grueling match against Jonas Bjorkman 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. The 20-year-old was in trouble when he dropped a tight 1st set and quickly went a break down in the 2nd. But from *1:3 down, he reeled off nine games in a row to take control. “It’s a good win for me: to play in this heat for 3 hours and 45 minutes and come through against a player of Jonas’s quality,” said Murray. “I was hitting my forehand harder and more consistently – although it still needs to get more consistent. Jonas is in great shape for his age and he knows how to pace himself in a five-set match so you need to be pretty switched on. For me to play him is great – he’s been awesome for tennis these last 15 years or so.” Radek Stepanek backpedaled and pumped his fist, twirling his finger to whip the packed crowd in Louis Armstrong Stadium into a full frenzy. Then Novak Djokovic, not to be outdone, waved his hands to raise the fans out of their sticky seats, which had held them captivated for almost five hours and five sets of stirring shot-making, shouting, cramping and dancing. Playing on a stage that doubled as a tennis court, the two had become emcees at the beginning of their abrupt end, a 5th-set tie breaker unique to the United States Open. That was when Djokovic, a 20-year-old from Serbia, channeled the buzz and rose to his No. 3 world ranking. Djokovic bounced the ball 24 times before locking into his serve for match point. A few shots later, when he fisted a backhand lob volley over Stepanek’s head, Djokovic dropped to his knees, overcome with his 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(2) second-round victory. “It was unforgettable,” Djokovic said to the crowd in his on-court interview minutes later. “I hope you enjoyed it.” The 4-hour-44-minute marathon was the longest match of this year’s Open so far, and it featured, according to Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd., a total of 1,994 and 104 rallies that lasted longer than eight exchanges. One more exchange, however, transcended a statistic and spoke to the emotion running throughout the day. After the defeat, Stepanek climbed over the net to hug his younger opponent and the two stumbled backward together. “I think that djokovic_uo07match was really special,” said Stepanek, a 28-year-old Czech. “I think it was not a match you can see every day here.”  “As much as I was running and sliding and cramping,” Djokovic said, “I still had a lot of fun.” The Serb was serving first in the last two sets, and never was one game away fro defeat. In other match concluded in a 5th set tie-break, Feliciano Lopez beat Igor Andreev of Russia 6-7(3), 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) trailing *2:5 in the final tie-break.  Rafael Nadal was leading 6-2, 6-3, 3-2 when Janko Tipsarevic approached him during the changeover, shook his hand and announced he had to quit the match after 1 hour, 38 minutes. The 23-year-old Tipsarevic, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon, had his right side taped by a trainer early in the 3rd set. An official later said the Serbian player was troubled by a rib muscle injury he has had for five weeks. There had been physical concern over French Open champion Nadal going into the match after the Spaniard had both knees wrapped and needed extra attention for his left knee during his first-round victory. “I feel better today,” said Nadal, who blasted in 28 winners against the Serb. “I feel a little more confidence in the knees. I’m not 100 percent yet. I run with a little bit of precaution, but so much better than the first day.” Nadal advanced to a third-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, a 7-6(2), 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 winner against Briton Tim Henman. “I feel more comfortable with the forehand and with the backhand, too.” Nadal said the 22-year-old Tsonga, ranked 74th, might be able to summon a big effort. “I know he’s a very aggressive player, a big server. Very good forehand. He plays with not much pressure, a little less than me,” said Nadal. “He doesn’t have much to lose. It’s always easier to play like this.Henman played his last Grand Slam match – retired the following month in a Davis Cup tie. After American Mardy Fish squandered a 4:1* (30/0) lead in the 5th set, he took all the blame for failing to upset eighth-seeded Tommy Robredo. Fish saved two match points to win the 4th set tiebreaker, but lost the final five games and fell 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4. “Credit to him, he stepped up his game,” Fish said. “But, I mean, I froze. Against top-10 players, top-eight players in the world, you just can’t freeze like that. I think a lot had to do with nerves.”

Third round: Lynn Zinser

John Isner sat in his courtside chair and soaked in a scene so surreal that he could not have dreamed it. In the minutes after he snatched a set from the best player in the world on the biggest stage at the United States Open, Arthur Ashe Stadium, the crowd stood and roared for him. federer_isner_uo07A 6-foot-9 wunderkind with a booming serve and an impish grin, Isner looked around in awe. “That was pretty neat,” he said. “Something I’ll always remember.” Isner’s moment eventually evaporated because the best player in the world, Roger Federer, calmly turned the match around and won, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, in the third round yesterday afternoon. For the next three sets, Isner realized his first-set magic was no match for Federer’s artful game and experience. “I think he’s always going to be tough to beat because of that serve,” Federer said. “That serve is not going to go away anytime soon. That’s just the way it is.” But Isner’s march, along with one by another American youngster, Donald Young, has provided a spark in the United States’ ranks. Young, an 18-year-old who was once the No. 1 junior player in the world, lost his third-round match, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 7-5, to Feliciano Lopez. But Young showed signs of jump-starting his professional career. No. 5 seed Andy Roddick was in stunning form, steamrolling former Aussie Open winner Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 to bring himself within a match of facing Federer. “Felt good,” Roddick said. “I wanted to go out and hit the ball and be aggressive, get ahold of my forehand, if I could. I felt like I did that today.” No. 6 seed James Blake advanced after 1 a.m. with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 win over Austrian Stefan Koubek. “I feel great,” Blake said of all the lee_uo07court time he has been spending. “I’ve been doing a lot of hard work and I feel like it’s paying off.” Blake was 1:3* (0/40) down in the 1st set, and Koubek served at 5:4 in the 3rd. Andy Murray, seeded 19 at Flushing Meadows, was beaten 6-3, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 under the floodlights at the Grandstand show court, going down to a man 11 years his senior and ranked No. 43 in the world – Hyung-Taik Lee, who started, and finished strongest, with Murray losing the opening set in the midst of an ongoing argument with umpire Steve Ullrich, whom Murray felt should have overruled two first service line calls down the middle. The 2nd set was just as troublesome for the British No. 1, who was muttering to himself continually. Having worked hard to save his serve in the 3rd game he was broken in the 5th game on a double fault and when Lee closed out the set with another break of serve the Korean looked set for a straight sets upset. Murray regrouped to take the 3rd set, his first service up to 63 per cent for the set and he broke Lee in the 1st game of the 4th set. Lee broke back immediately and moved into a 5:2 lead before Murray rallied again, saving a match point on his serve. At 6:5 down, Murray made a crucial error on serve, sending a sloppy backhand into the net to give Lee a match-point he converted with a superb passing forehand. Second seed Rafael Nadal continued to overcome knee problems at the U.S. Open on Sunday when he outclassed Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-1 to reach the fourth round. The Spaniard, who almost pulled out of the event because of tendinitis in his left knee, looked more at ease as he cruised into the last 16 after just over two hours on court. Yet the 21-year-old three-times French Open champion revealed he was still hindered by the injury. “Yesterday I go practice and I don’t put one ball inside the court because my mind is there. It’s on the knee not on the ball,” Nadal told reporters. He book a match with fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, who saved a match point before beating Argentine David Nalbandian 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5. “I played good today,” the Spaniard said. “I’m happy about my game from today and two days ago”. “It’s a new experience for me and, you know, it was a lot of excitement. Playing at the biggest court in tennis, it was something new and something I never experienced.” said Novak Djokovic after  s 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Juan Martin del Potro, a 19-year-old from Argentina. It moved Djokovic into the fourth round, where he will face another Argentine, Juan Monaco. Robby Ginepri of the United States lost gulbis_uo07his third-round match to Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, 5-7, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, yesterday afternoon. Ginepri made a memorable run to the semifinals in 2005 with three straight five-set victories before losing in five to Andre Agassi. He found this one tough to swallow. “Long, slow death for me tonight,” Ginepri said. “It was definitely a match I should have taken away with the W.Carlos Moya needed five sets to get past Philipp Kohlschreiber, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4, in an entertaining match under floodlights, that took more than four hours. The German had mini-set points at 5-all in 2nd and 3rd sets. Ernests Gulbis, a 19-year-old from Latvia, completed perhaps the most shocking upset of the men’s draw, not just because he defeated No. 8 seed Tommy Robredo of Spain, but because of the margin. Gulbis finished off a 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 victory in a mere 91 minutes, hitting 39 winners to Robredo’s 7. Gulbis playing his first US Open, advanced to the fourth round not dropping a set.

Fourth round: (ESPN)

For the third time within twelve months, Tommy Haas survived a 5th set tie-break in New York, as he overcame James Blake 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 7-6(4), having an 8-game winning streak which gave him a 2:0* lead in the decider. Blake’s quality dipped in the tiebreaker, though, which he began by flubbing a groundstroke. At 3:3 came the point of the match, a 15-stroke exchange in which Haas lofted two terrific lobs. On the first, Blake sprinted back to the baseline and hit an over-the-shoulder shot to extend the point. On the second, he had no chance. “I just felt, like, ‘OK, let’s try it again,'” Haas said. “What a point! If I would have lost that point, the crowd would have gone absolutely ballistic.” Instead, Blake haas_uo07then double-faulted to fall behind 5:3, and soon it was over. How distant his match points must have seemed then. All of the American’s oh-so-close opportunities came when he led 5:4* in the 5th set with Haas serving. Blake’s first match point arrived courtesy of a double-fault. Haas recovered from that gaffe to produce a 116 mph serve, drawing a weak return from Blake that the German turned into a forehand winner. Haas erased the second match point with a 117 mph service winner, and the third with a 119 mph service winner. “He can get hot like that,” Blake said. “He’s talented.” The German reached No. 2 in the rankings in 2002, but that professional success was dampened by personal sorrow in July that year when Haas’ parents were seriously injured in a motorcycle crash. He took six weeks off from tennis while they recuperated – and then he missed all of 2003 after two operations on his right shoulder. He’s struggled with injuries in 2007, too, pulling out of a match against Federer at Wimbledon because of a torn abdominal muscle. Blake’s annus horribilis was 2004: he lost his father to cancer, broke a disk in his neck during a practice session, and got a virus that paralyzed his face. Haas and Blake know each other’s stories well. “Both of us playing at this level again, playing in front of an unbelievable crowd – I mean, it’s as good as it gets for us,” Haas said. “I know one of us had to lose today. I think we both can be very proud of what we’ve achieved.”  Roger Federer was scuffling against a Spanish lefty – no, not that one – at the U.S. Open on Monday night. He lost the first set to Feliciano Lopez, barely won the second, then trailed love-40 to start the third. And then Federer did the sort of remarkable thing that only Federer does: He won the next 35 points he served. Answering every question Lopez posed with an exclamation point, Federer took control of the third set and the match, coming back to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows. Next up for the No. 1-ranked Federer: No. 5 Andy Roddick, the 2003 champion and the runner-up last year. Federer is 13-1 against Roddick. “It’s a great record, but it doesn’t help me,” Federer said. “We’ll see how it goes. Andy’s always tough at the U.S. Open.” Roddick saved a set point to win 1st set tie-break 8/6 and won two opening games of the 2nd set when his opponent Tomas Berdych retired due to  illness after complaining of fatigue in the first set. Sixth time in the Open era, a player won two Grand Slam matches taking advantage of retirements, previously it happened at the Us Open too, five years earlier (Jiri Novak). No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko at the center of a gambling probe being conducted by ferrer_uo07the men’s professional tour, eliminated Hyung-Taik Lee 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.  Rafael Nadal is a three-time French Open champion and a two-time Wimbledon finalist, but he has yet to solve the hard courts of Flushing Meadows, and David Ferrer ran him ragged, winning 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-2 in a match that ended at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday. “I prefer not to speak about my body right now,” Nadal said afterward, saying he thought it would sound as if he were making excuses. “He played very good and he beat me.” So much for a third consecutive Grand Slam final between Nadal and No. 1 Roger Federer. “Sure there is disappointment for me, but that is tennis,” Nadal said. He wound up on the ground after failing to handle an on-the-run shot in the next-to-last game. Earlier in the fourth set, Nadal grimaced between points and sometimes reached down to grab his foot, as though it might have been cramping. After missing a shot late in the third set, the left-hander flexed his racket hand repeatedly. He struggled through the first round, then looked much fitter in his next two matches. He wore thick strips of white tape below both knees against Ferrer, but that didn’t appear to be an issue this time Ferrer, however, was. He leads the ATP in most returning statistics and on this night he broke Nadal seven times, including to go up 4:2 in the fourth set. He also matched Nadal’s court coverage and big groundstrokes throughout, often ending points with a flick of his wrist and a loud grunt. “To beat Rafa, I have to run a lot. Tonight is very special,” Ferrer said. Nadal entered Tuesday having won four straight against his fellow Spaniard, but as the favorite said afterward about Ferrer: “He’s a very good player. He’s having an unbelievable season.” Early on, Ferrer was unsettled by the overhead video screens in Arthur Ashe Stadium, which sometimes show live shots during play. He complained a couple of times to the chair umpire, who had tournament referee Brian Earley come out to discuss it. “It’s unbelievable,” Ferrer told Earley. “It’s impossible to focus.” Earley explained to the player the screens would stay on. “He said it was distracting him. This is his first time playing on this court, so you can understand it,” Earley said. “But we’re not turning it off.” Once Ferrer got used to the setting, he sparkled. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time by beating No. 23 Juan Monaco 7-5, 7-6(2), 6-7(6), 6-1 in a match that included the unusual sight of Monaco losing a point because a ball fell out of his shorts. “I went nuts! I was cursing at me, I was yelling at my pants,” Monaco said. Monaco was serving while ahead 5:3 in the 3rd-set tie-break when the players settled into an extended baseline exchange. As Monaco whipped a shot, an extra yellow ball he had tucked away in case of a fault popped out of his pocket – the second time it happened during the match. He stopped playing, dropped his racket, doubled over and screamed, knowing what was coming. “Right away I knew I lost that point. It’s very weird,” Monaco said. “That sort of thing cannot happen twice in the same match.” Chair umpire Jake Garner had no choice. “By rule,” he announced, “he loses the point.” Djokovic gladly took it. “I never had this situation in match,” he said. “First-time experience that I got a point in that way. It was an important point.” That got Djokovic to 5:4, and he held a match point at 6:5. Monaco saved that with a service winner and eventually won that set. But Djokovic grabbed a 3:0 lead in the 4th set and wound up winning in 3 hours, 53 minutes. A couple hours earlier, Djokovic was flat on the court, his face resting on a white towel, his back being massaged by a trainer. A few feet away, another trainer was attending to Monaco, who wanted his right elbow examined and his right ankle taped after a nasty fall while diving for a shot in the second set. Djokovic held up better down the stretch, though, and he now faces Carlos Moya. The 31-year-old Moya is the oldest man still in the tournament; the player he beat 7-5, 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4 in the fourth round Tuesday, 19-year-old Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, was the chela_uo07youngest left. Gulbis served 10 aces in the 1st set, but added just 3 more in the next three sets! Consider these numbers: Stanislas Wawrinka won more points (145-142), produced far more clean winners (65-29) and even broke serve more often (8-7). But it was Wawrinka who lost the most important point of all, the last one, with his 69th unforced error, 20 more than Juan Ignacio Chela accumulated. As Chela walked to the net, smiling a wide smile, Wawrinka took everything out on his poor racket, violently cracking it twice on the court. As if that didn’t mangle the tool of his trade enough, Wawrinka whacked the racket one more time as he walked off. The 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-4 victory was Chela’s second in a row that went the distance (in the previous round he came back from a two-sets-to-one deficit against Ivan Ljubicic); he was 1-8 for his career in five-setters until this tournament. Chela trailed 0:2 in the last set before climbing all the way back. The secret to the Argentine’s success? “I didn’t think too much,” he said. Wawrinka, meanwhile, was 8-0 in fifth sets at Grand Slam tournaments until Tuesday. “He played well at the end of the fifth set,” Wawrinka said, “so I think he deserved to win.”

Quarterfinals: (AP)

Roger Federer maintained his dominance over Andy Roddick to reach the semi-finals of the US Open today, keeping alive his bid to win four consecutive titles in New York. The top seed and defending champion defeated the home favourite 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-2 in an intense night-time encounter that turned on two tie-breaks which brought out the brilliant best from the world’s top player. Federer made it 26 wins in a row at the US Open and is now just two matches away from emulating the four-in-a-row feat of Bill Tilden in the 1920s. In Saturday’s semi-finals, the Swiss star will play fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, against whom he has a 9-0 winning record. davydenko_uo07Davydenko, who lost to Federer in last year’s semi-final in New York, defeated Germany’s Tommy Haas 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, sending him into the last four as the only player not to have dropped a set. Davydenko and Haas for the third time in the last five majors met in the quarterfinals – the Russian won twice, and both wins occurred in new York (Haas won in Melbourne). Roddick’s defeat means the winless stretch for American men in Grand Slam tournaments extends to 16, one short of the record between 1984 and 1989. Both Federer and Roddick were dressed in black for their much-anticipated prime-time showdown for which the world No. 1 was the hot favourite, having won 13 of their 14 encounters, including a four-set win in last year’s final. Roddick was pumped up for the challenge and with his serve operating at full blast, the 1st set raced towards a tie-break. Federer earned a mini-break with a marvelous backhand pass and then blasted down an ace on set point. Roddick had the first break point in the match for either man in the 8th game of the 2nd set, but hit long on a backhand service return. The American, only a year younger than Federer at 25 but with just one grand slam title to Federer’s 11, was taking most of the initiatives and was comfortable on his own serve. But once again he came off second best in the second set tie-break, Federer hitting a fabulous blocked return winner off a huge Roddick first serve to grab the mini-break before blasting a service winner to go two sets ahead. Roddick’s task then became well-nigh impossible when Federer finally crafted two break points in the 6th game of the 3rd set and gleefully converted the second to lead 4:2. Federer then pocketed the next two games against an exasperated Roddick to finish off the match in 2 hours 2 minutes. Novak Djokovic has reached his third consecutive grand slam semi-final after beating Spaniard Carlos Moya in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-1. “It’s very good to win in three sets,” said Djokovic. “He had a great tournament, but luckily I played my best tennis in the second set tie-break. Third set, I played really well.” The 20-year-old made an indifferent start, squandering eight break points in the 1st set before finally making the breakthrough when Moya, the former French Open champion and world No. 1, netted a forehand at 5:4. Djokovic picked up his game in the 2nd set but, despite looking more comfortable on serve, he continued to struggle against Moya’s delivery as further break points went begging. The Serb’s profligacy allowed Moya to take the set into a tie-break, and it was here that the match entered its decisive phase, Djokovic saving a set point (with help of risky 2nd serve) before wrapping things up with a massive forehand. That effectively ended Moya’s resistance. The 31-year-old dropped serve three times in the final set as djokovic_Moya_uo07Djokovic took control to reach his first semi-final at Flushing Meadows. In Saturday’s semifinals, he’ll meet No. 15 David Ferrer – who just happens to be the man who ran Nadal ragged in the Open’s fourth round. Ferrer reached his first major semifinal by beating No. 20 Juan Ignacio Chela 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 on Thursday. Against Chela, Ferrer kept up his surprising run – and it turns out he hasn’t been eating as well as he’s been playing. It was a far shorter and less taxing match than in the previous round, when Ferrer was on court until nearly 2 a.m. while stunning Nadal. After that rousing victory, the biggest of his career, Ferrer had a hard time finding something for dinner. So he wound up eating a fast-food burger. “Yeah, really, at 4:15, my coach and me walk into the McDonald’s,” Ferrer said. He leads the ATP in most major returning categories, and he was up to his usual tricks against Chela, compiling 16 break points. That count was already up to 12 by the time Chela earned his first break chance on Ferrer’s serve. Chela converted it to take a 2:0 lead in the 2nd set – and then promptly got broken right back when he sailed a forehand wide. “That,” Chela acknowledged, “was my only real chance.”

Semifinals: (Daily Mail)

Roger Federer stayed on course for a fourth successive US Open title with a semi-final victory over dogged fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko. Federer, unbeaten at the US Open since a fourth-federer_uo07round defeat to David Nalbandian in 2003, clocked up his 26th consecutive victory in the championships with a 7-5, 6-1, 7-5 win over Davydenko. The Russian had looked to have been sliding out of the tournament at two sets down only to push the champion all the way in the third set. Having lost their previous nine meetings, the signs for a first victory over Federer had been good for the fourth seed when he broke the Swiss serve in the opening game of the match. Federer had to save another break point that would have put him 4:1 down but he edged back into the opening set, moving in front for the first time in the match at 5:3. Back came Davydenko, though, evening the set at 5:5 before Federer eked out a set point to take the opener in 51 minutes. At 1:0 down in the 2nd, when Davydenko again double faulted on break point (previously at 3:4 in the 1st set), it looked as if the set and with it the match were slipping away from the Russian and those fears were confirmed as Federer eased into a 5:1 lead to serve for a 2-0 lead. The 3rd set, though, was not the formality it should have been for the Swiss star. Davydenko broke in the 4th game before Federer broke back, only to serve a double fault to cede another break to Davydenko, leaving the third set at 4:2 in favour of the Russian. Remarkably, Federer was broken again to leave Davydenko to serve for the set at 5:3 but the champion was let off the hook when his opponent mis-hit a smash to trail 0/30, a point from which he pressed on for the sixth break of serve in the set. There was almost a seventh in the very next game as Davydenko continued to undermine a Federer serve that had until this match had been a model of consistency. Davydenko had two set points, coming close on both to making a major breakthrough but when the second got away with a wide forehand at the end of an absorbing rally and his head dropped in dismay, there was a sense the chance had passed for good. Perhaps Davydenko sensed it too, his next service game ending miserably yet again on a double fault to leave Federer serving for the match at 6:5 up. With the end in sight Federer finally stepped up through the gears, serving a love game to send him through to another date with Novak Djokovic. Djokovic set up his first shot at a grand slam title when he got past number 15 David Ferrer in their semi-final. “I think I’m ready and I need to be ready,” Djokovic said following his 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory. “I need to think like this. I need to believe in myself, because otherwise I won’t get a positive outcome. I don’t want to go out tomorrow and try to do my best or try to perform well. No, I’ll go djokovic_uo07_tomorrow to try to win. “It’s going to be an amazing experience in front of 23,000 people and I’m really looking forward to it. I hope I can recover and try to win it.” Djokovic started his first US Open semifinal with *1:4 – since then his victory wasn’t questioned to the end. The Saturday-Sunday thing is tough on the players. “All of a sudden the rhythm changes entirely so instead of talking about a match you played 45 minutes ago I have to start thinking already about the upcoming match against Djokovic.” said Federer “I’m feeling great. I know how to play him and I hope I can just do what I do best and hopefully win.” Federer lost to Djokovic in their last meeting, when the Serbian took the ATP Masters Series title in Montreal. “He’s tough off the baseline, he’s got a good serve, he’s got a good forehand, backhand. Similar to Davydenko, just with a better serve it seems to me. We’ve had two best-of-five matches, once in Davis Cup, once at the Australian Open. I was able to beat him both times in straight sets. But, you know, these guys improve quickly. I felt that in Montreal. Hopefully I can beat him again this time around.”

Final: (AP)

federer_uo07_Roger Federer sure gave Novak Djokovic chances, plenty of chances, to pull off a major upset in the U.S. Open final. Federer knows how to win these things, while Djokovic is still learning, and that made the difference Sunday. Hardly at the top of his game, Federer came through, beating Djokovic 7-6(4), 7-6(2), 6-4 for his fourth consecutive U.S. Open championship and 12th Grand Slam title overall. Federer is the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win the American Grand Slam four years running, and, still only 26 years old, he moved within two of Pete Sampras‘ career record of 14 major titles. “I think about it a lot now,” Federer said of Sampras’ mark. “To come so close at my age is fantastic, and I hope to break it.” How many Slams can he win? “I don’t know,” Federer said. “I hope more than Pete.” This one was a close call. The 20-year-old Djokovic was in his first Slam final, yet he led 6:5 in each of the opening two sets. In the 1st, he held five set points. In the 2nd, he held two. Federer erased all of those, showing the craft and cool that have allowed him to hold the No. 1 ranking for the past 188 weeks, the longest run ever. “My next book is going to be called, ‘Seven Set Points,'” Djokovic said, flashing the same sort of humor he displayed when he did on-court impersonations of other players after his quarterfinal victory. On a more serious note, the No. 3-seeded Djokovic said of Federer: “Once again, he showed he’s the best.” In Djokovic, Federer was facing the only man to beat him over the past three months, but that was in early August at Montreal, not early September at New York, and federer_uo07_triumphin a Grand Slam tuneup, not the real deal. So, not just talented with a racket but prescient, too, Federer pretty much predicted what would transpire. Shortly before walking out for Sunday’s match, he said knowingly, “It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the final.” Sure was. Afterward, Federer spoke about having enjoyed getting another shot at Djokovic. “New guys challenging me – this is my biggest motivation out there,” Federer said. “Seeing them challenging me, and then beating them in the finals.” In the end, about the only category Djokovic won on this day was “Most Intriguing Guests,” with 2006 Open champion Maria Sharapova – “just a friendship,” he said – and actor Robert De Niro sharing a box with his parents in the stands Federer was dressed for an evening on the town – all in black, from headwrap and wristband to socks and shoes, from shirt to shorts with tuxedo-like satin stripes down the sides – and he finished things under the lights by breaking Djokovic in the last game with the help of a no-look, over-the-shoulder volley winner. It’s the type of shot that has prompted plenty of people to call Federer the greatest to ever swing a racket. Which is why, at the start, it was surprising that Federer was not the Federer everyone has to come to expect. When Federer double-faulted, then sprayed two forehands long, Djokovic broke to go up 6:5. Perhaps thinking they’d witness an upset, many in the over-capacity crowd of 25,230 got on their feet, clapping and screaming. So, serving for the first set, Djokovic raced to a 40-love edge. Three set points. Three chances to take a one-set lead against Federer in the U.S. Open final. And just like that, they vanished: Federer hit a cross-court forehand winner that caught a line, and Djokovic missed two backhands. Then came two more set points that Federer erased. Then, in the tiebreaker, Djokovic made three backhand errors and two double-faults, including on the last point. “He knows what it feels like to be in that kind of situation. He knows how to cope with the pressure,” Djokovic said. “For me, this is something new.” It showed again later. When Federer served while trailing 6:5 in the second set, Djokovic let two more set points go by the wayside. Again they went to a tiebreaker, and again Federer was better. When he ended it with a backhand passing winner down the line – placing the ball through the one, tiny opening there was – Federer skipped toward the sideline, screamed and punched the air. That made the Swiss star 13-2 in major final tiebreakers, nearly identical to his record in major finals: He’s 12-2, an .857 winning percentage that’s better than Sampras’ .778. Djokovic had one last opportunity to climb back into the match, getting to love-40 when Federer served at 2:2 in the 3rd set. But Federer took five points in a row, making Djokovic 2-for-9 on break chances. Federer takes home a Grand Slam-record $2.4 million in prize money: $1.4 million federer_uo07_trophyfor winning the tournament, plus a $1 million bonus because he finished atop the U.S. Open Series standings based on performances at hard-court tuneup events. From 1970 to 2005, no man – not a single one! – reached all four Grand Slam finals in a calendar year. Now Federer has turned that trick two years in a row. Actually, his streak stretches back to 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals, and he’s won eight. And if it weren’t for a certain indefatigable Mallorcan who goes by the name Rafael Nadal – who beat him in the last two French Open finals. Federer might have won all 10. About an hour after Sunday’s match, Djokovic walked outside the stadium to a players’ area, where a dozen friends and relatives awaited. Djokovic posed for photos, then Dad helped him pop a bottle of champagne. Clearly, Djokovic was happy to be here. Federer cared only about getting the victory. He was asked whether Djokovic is ready to overtake the second-ranked Nadal. “No. 2, No. 3 – it doesn’t matter much,” Federer said. “It’s No. 1 that matters.” It was his 51st title (12-2 record in major finals). Stats of the final