US Open, New York August 31-September 13, 2009; 128 draw (32 seeds); Surface – Hard
Roger Federer gave lessons to young players (Novak Djokovic & Andy Murray) in two previous US Open finals. Through set and a half of his 2009 final, it seemed he would give another lesson – to Juan Martin del Potro, but the Argentine somehow managed to turn the things around. Del Potro’s triumph is really impressive because in the semifinals he totally outplayed Rafael Nadal. For the first time in history there was no American in the quarterfinals…
Roger Federer began his title defence at Flushing Meadows in fine style with a convincing 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 win over the American teenager Devin Britton . The world No. 1, looking for a sixth consecutive US Open title, proved far too much for his wildcard opponent at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, despite twice losing service games. Federer said: “These guys start to be, like, 10 years younger than me, and they followed my generation. So it’s interesting, with the new generation coming up and almost idolizing some players. Some, maybe me, I don’t know, because that’s what happened with me. All of a sudden, I was in front of Pete Sampras at Wimbledon and I couldn’t believe it.” He will face Simon Greul in his second round. Greul had a tough first round match which could have gone either way winning the match which went to a fifth set tie-breaker against Giovanni Lapentti 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-0, 7-6(9), saving three match points in the deciding tie-break. Fifth seed Andy Roddick, who took world No. 1 Federer to a 30th game in the fifth set on grass in an epic Wimbledon final in July, took considerably less time to shake off Germany’s Bjorn Phau as he powered to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory. It finished at 12:45 a.m. but that did not bother Roddick, who served magnificently, with an 81 per cent first service rate of which 80 per cent were winning points. “This feels real great,” Roddick said during an on court, post-match interview, “the later the better.” There were some early casualties among the men’s seeds with 26th seed Paul-Henri Mathieu beaten 2-6, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 by Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny, while No 28 Victor Hanescu of Romania was beaten by American John Isner in a testing straight-sets match, 6-1, 7-6(14), 7-6(5). Isner saved 10 set points against Hanescu in the 2nd set! No such problems, however, for eighth seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, Sweden’s Robin Soderling, the No 12 seed and Spain’s Tommy Robredo, the 14th seed, who all progressed. Former champion Lleyton Hewitt wasted little time advancing to the second round. The Australian, seeded at 31, steamrollered Brazil’s Thiago Alves with a 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 victory. Germany’s Tommy Haas, the 20th seed, encountered stubborn opposition in Alejandro Falla of Colombia but prevailed with a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 win while New York favourite James Blake, the 21st seed from nearby Connecticut, eased into round two with a 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Spain’s Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. In the late games on Armstrong, Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, the 23rd seed, dispatched Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-0, 6-4, 6-4 while 15th seed Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic eased past another Italian, sweeping Simone Bolelli 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. There were a few aces, not many unforced errors and even a bit of serve and volley from Andy Murray as the Scot got the job done at the US Open last night, beating the Latvian Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 6-3 7-5 to reach the second round. It was a straightforward if at times patchy performance from the world No. 2 but he was still on and off court within 2 hours, 17 minutes, wasting little excess energy in the first of what he hopes will be seven matches en route to his first Grand Slam title. “I played well tonight,” Murray said. “It was great fun. I’ve always wanted to play night matches since I was a boy, so I hope to play more and keep going.” Murray received a boost in the run up to his late-night match with the news that both Ivo Karlovic and Stan Wawrinka, both in his side of the draw, had lost. Karlovic, a potential third round opponent for Murray, lost in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(8), 7-6(5) to Spain’s Ivan Navarro, while the No. 19 seed Wawrinka, a likely round-four rival, let slip a 2-0 lead over Ecuador’s Nicolas Lapentti to lose 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 6-3 in 4 hours 43 minutes. Wawrinka was two points away from winning the match in straight sets on two different occasions: at 5:4 (deuce) & 5:3 in the tie-break of the 3rd set; he also led 3:1* in the 4th set.Rafael Nadal made light work of his opening match in the US Open, easing past Richard Gasquet in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. The third seed showed no signs of his recent fitness problems. The Frenchman had made 34 unforced errors by this point, compared to just 6 from Nadal, but appeared to stand his ground much better in the third set. Novak Djokovic enjoyed a stroll into the second round of the US Open at the expense of Ivan Ljubicic at Arthur Ashe Stadium but insisted it was not as easy as it looked. The world No. 4 was never in trouble on the way to a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 victory over the 30-year-old Croatian in 1 hour and 37 minutes. He was 3:0* up in the 1st set before Ljubicic got on the scoreboard holding his serve but it was too late to stop Djokovic, who also took a 3:0 lead in the 2nd, breaking the former world No. 3 twice. “I would love every match to be a walk in the park,” Djokovic said, before adding: “It’s not easy.”Marsel Ilhan  created history at Flushing Meadows Monday when he became the first Turkish men’s player to ever win a main draw match at a Grand Slam tournament. In truth, Ilhan had created history late last week when he won three qualifying matches to become the first Turkish player to ever take his place in the main draw of a major. Upon qualifying, Ilhan set himself the goal of reaching the third round and is now half way there after rallying to beat experienced Belgian Christophe Rochus 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 after serving 15 aces and breaking serve eight times. Ilhan, 22, was born in Uzbekistan but moved with his mother to Istanbul five years ago for a better life and to further his tennis career: “I love Turkey very much and I do everything for Turkey. I have Turkish roots, I have so many friends there and the countries are very similar in their cultures. And the Turkish Tennis Federation has supported me for the last two years, which has allowed me to travel with my coach [Can Uner]. I couldn’t find a sponsor in Uzbekistan.”
Second round: (ESPN)
Taylor Dent and Ivan Navarro brought the heat on their first serves, with Dent firing the tournament’s fastest serve of 147 mph; Navarro got as high as 130 mph. One of Dent’s thunderbolts snapped the net strap, forcing a seven-minute delay to the match, which ultimately ticked over the four-hour mark. In a serving shootout, Navarro put an astonishing 81 percent of first serves into play; Dent made 71 percent of first serves. Dent fired 20 aces and topped 140 mph around 10 times during the match. In an emotion-charged fifth set, Dent rode the support of rowdy home fans to a 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(1), 7-5, 7-6(9) win after saving one match point (8:9) in the tie-break. After shaking hands Dent grabbed the umpire’s microphone and screamed, “You guys are unbelievable. I love you!” Dent had 121 winners and won 190 points. It was a match that made no sense on many levels. Dent learned to serve and volley on the fast hard courts of California. Navarro comes from Spain, where the courts are slow red clay and where the last player coming to the net on a regular basis probably had his passport revoked. “I assumed he was going to be a typical clay-court player,” Dent said. When it ended, shortly after 10 p.m. Eastern time, with Dent’s backhand return of service floating past the charging Navarro and dropping gently into his deep right corner on Dent’s fourth match point, a stadium that held 6,000 erupted as if it were 20,000. And he let them know immediately how he felt about them, going from shaking Navarro’s hand to asking the chair umpire for the microphone and telling the crowd how unbelievable they were and how much he appreciated their support. Pam Shriver, former tennis star and now an ESPN broadcaster, who has been around tennis long enough to have seen it all, told Dent on air that she had never before seen anybody grab the chair umpire’s microphone. He told her he owed the fans that, and later called them his third leg and his backbone. Backbone was an interesting choice of words. Dent has had two surgeries on a back injury called spondylolisthesis, which is a break in the bottom vertebrae. He talks about the pain, about hanging a painting in his house and when he finished being so fatigued that he needed to rest in bed for three hours. He says that, at its worst, he could barely get through airports. In that extraordinary match, one of the most dramatic in the US Open history, Dent led 5:4* (40/15) in the 2nd set, had SP at 6:5 in the third, was 4:5 down in the fourth, 3:5 in the final tie-break! In other match, concluded in a 5th set tie-break, Denis Istomin  stunned a specialist of winning dramatic matches – Nicolas Lapentti 2-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) in 4 hours 48 minutes (longest US Open match since 2004). In the final set Lapentti led 6:5* (30/15).Roger Federer hasn’t lost at the U.S. Open since the round of 16 in 2003, when the guy across the net was Argentina’s David Nalbandian. The top-seeded Federer extended his Open winning streak to 36 Wednesday night, but he had some wobbly moments before he solved 65th-ranked Simon Greul of Germany. “I knew I could be in a for a battle,” said Federer after his 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 victory. “The intensity level was really high.” In the third round, Federer will play No. 31 Lleyton Hewitt, a former Open champion and the man Federer beat to win his first Open title in 2004. Hewitt took out Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. He has lost to Federer 13 consecutive times. Greul is 28, the same age as Federer, and you never would’ve known he was a journeyman the way he took his cuts, pounding returns and driving groundstrokes to the corners, electrifying the crowd in the first Open night session to begin with a men’s match since 1986. Greul had two set points in the 2nd, and was a point away from going up two breaks in the 3rd, before Federer lifted his level, and finally closed it out with his eighth ace of the night. Andy Roddick powered into the U.S. Open’s third round, one of five American men who won Thursday. The 2003 champion at Flushing Meadows pounded 13 aces, didn’t face a break point until the final game and easily eliminated 81st-ranked Marc Gicquel of France 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 at night. Roddick improved to 4-0 against Gicquel, winning all 11 sets they’ve played. The fifth-seeded Roddick will take on 55th-ranked John Isner in an all-American matchup. The 6-foot-9 Isner beat Marsel Ilhan of Turkey 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(1). James Blake staved off three straight set points in a 3rd-set tie-break to overcome Olivier Rochus of Belgium, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-3. With stadium workers removing trash from the upper deck at Arthur Ashe Stadium to get ready for the night session, Blake fell behind 6:3 in the third-set tie-break (earlier he saved two set points, one at 4:5 and another at 5:6). But he answered with five straight points to pull it out – jumping for joy and shouting out when he hit a down-the-line winner to seal the set. “I had some nail-biting moments there in the tiebreaker in the third set,” Blake said. “Could have gone either way. To get through that and feel good, get the emotions and feel the crowd getting into it – everything about it was really good.” He broke Rochus’ serve in the 6th game of the 4th set and served out the match from there. Blake has advanced to at least the third round of the U.S. Open in his last seven appearances – he missed 2004 after breaking his neck in a freak accident when he ran into a net post – but has yet to get past the quarterfinals of any major. The No. 4-seeded Novak Djokovic, the runner-up at Flushing Meadows in 2007, had no problems getting past the 155th-ranked Carsten Ball 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Djokovic will meet Jesse Witten  in the third round. Witten was playing on the Futures circuit earlier this year, where the same balls are used all match and have swelled up by the end. The winner may earn only about $1,200 and competitors sometimes stay with host families – which beats the alternative of a dingy motel. “The families really help you out,” the 26-year-old American said after beating Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-5, 6-2. “They give you some food and make you feel like you’re at home every once in a while.”Since the ranking inception only five men advanced to the US Open third round being ranked lower than Witten: Kevin Moir No. 355 in 1984, Jay Berger No. 730 in 1985, Mats Wilander No. 558 in 1993, Sargis Sargsian No. 392 in 1995 & Marco Chiudinelli No. 306 in 2006. World No. 2 Andy Murray reached the third round of the US Open on Friday as he beat Chilean Paul Capdeville 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 on Arthur Ashe Stadium. “Basically, I played three good sets and one bad one. In the second set, I had a bit of a down physically. I wasn’t exhausted. Maybe I didn’t eat enough or I ate too soon before the match, because I felt I was going to be sick,” said Murray. Third seed Rafael Nadal, still making his way back from an eight-week injury lay-off due to knee problems that left him unable to defend his Wimbledon title, had looked to be cruising to victory after taking the 1st set without the loss of a game. He had not counted on the determination of his German opponent (Nicolas Kiefer) who made him fight for the remainder of the match before Nadal ran out a 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 (in almost 3 hours) winner at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Juan Martin del Potro defeated Jurgen Melzer 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-3 coming back from *0:3 & *5:6 in the tie-break. It was DelPo’s second straight sets win over a dangerous opponent – in the first round he outplayed fellow Argentine Juan Monaco 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
Third round: Allan Kelly
Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were forced to dig deep after first-set losses in the fourth round of the US Open on Saturday as the action started to heat up in the men’s singles. While defending champion and top seed Federer made it 14 in a row over former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 win, fourth-seeded Djokovic struggled to see off the challenge of US Jesse Witten 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-4. Also through early on into the fourth round from the top half of the draw was wily Czech Radek Stepanek, who defeated Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3, and Russian livewire Nikolay Davydenko, who cruised past Switzerland’s Marco Chiudinelli 6-4, 7-5, 7-5. The travails of Federer and Djokovic signaled a tightening of the competition following five days of play in which seeds totally dominated to the extent that the top 16 all reached the third round – the first time this had happened in a Grand Slam tournament in the 41-year Open era. Federer, seeking a sixth straight US title to match the 84-year-old record of Bill Tilden, was uncustomarily out first under the midday sun at the Arthur Ashe Stadium court and he was uncustomarily sluggish and careless. In contrast, Hewitt, the champion here in 2001 who is clawing his way back up the rankings after falling out of the top 100 in February, looked much the livlier and more enterprising. The Australian broke Federer twice to win the 1st set (Federer led *4:2, 40/0) and had several break points in the 3rd after the Swiss star had leveled the set scores. A consummate front-runner, Federer raced away to clinch his 38th straight win at the US Open. The win, which assures Federer of retaining the world No. 1 status no matter who wins the title here. “It was close and it could have gone either way,” Federer said. “He had a good start and he believed maybe more today than in some of the other ones he played against me. Being a set down against Lleyton I knew it was going to be difficult for me – maybe needing to go to a fifth set or even going down.” Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion and 2007 US Open runner-up, took 3 hours and 28 minutes to subdue Witten, the longest long-shot still in the field at 276th in the world. The Serb wasted a 5:2* lead in the 1st set, and faced a scare as Witten was serving at 6:5 in the 3rd set. Witten also led 4:3* in the 4th set before dropping three games in a row.“Looking at that match, I don’t know who was No. 4 in the world,” Djokovic said. “It was a tough win. For either one it would have been well deserved.” “My biggest thing usually is I feel like I don’t belong,” Witten said. “It’s good to see I can play with these guys and belong a little bit on the stage. Hopefully, I can stay around a little longer. I wasn’t getting outplayed too much,” Witten was 0-6 in tour-level matches before this week. Witten, a Challenger circuit regular one step below the ATP, had never won a top-level match until this week and was just happy to get past qualifying after 10 failures in 11 prior Slam tries and a first-round US Open exit in 2006. “I’m just happy to be playing,” Witten said. “I’m going to keep trying. I’ll play a few more weeks and see what happens.”Andy Roddick‘s U.S. Open is over much sooner than he expected. Coming off a close-as-could-be loss in the Wimbledon final, Roddick came to Flushing Meadows with a rebuilt game and some serious self-belief. Running into strong-serving, 6-foot-9 American John Isner in the third round proved to be too much to handle. The 55th-ranked Isner smacked 38 aces to beat the No. 5-seeded Roddick 7-6(3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6(5) Saturday. “It’s obviously, hands down, the biggest win of my career. Nothing even compares. To do it at the stage I did it on is pretty spectacular. Maybe it will sink in a little bit more tomorrow,” said Isner. “But I know I can really do some damage here. So I’m not satisfied just yet.” “It’s tough. I mean, I don’t know if I’ve come to a tournament with as much confidence – into a Slam – as I did with this tournament,” Roddick said. The men seeded No. 1 through No. 16 were 38-0 before Roddick and Isner stepped on court. Isner squandered a match point in the 4th set and seemed exhausted, but he chose the right tactics in the final set, concentrating only on his service games. It allowed him to step down in the deciding tie-break – Roddick had lost 5-set matches that reached 6-all in three other majors, it was the first one in New York. No. 14 Tommy Robredo defeated No. 21 James Blake of the United States 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-4. After that loss under floodlights on Arthur Ashe stadium, 29-year-old Blake never came back to the tennis elite.Rafael Nadal was treated for a stomach muscle problem during his third-round victory at the U.S. Open on Sunday. The No. 3-seeded Nadal beat No. 32 Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 in an all-Spaniard matchup. Nadal already was comfortably ahead when both he and Almagro received treatment from trainers after the 3rd game of the 3rd set. Nadal had a patch applied to his stomach, while Almagro had his back worked on. Sunday, ending Taylor Dent‘s improbable run at the U.S. Open in the third round. “Obviously the crowd wanted Taylor to win,” Murray said, “but I played very well.” Trying to become the first British man since the 1930s to win a Grand Slam title, Murray beat the 195th-ranked Dent 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. In other action, No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero, the French Open champion and U.S. Open runner-up in 2003, moved on when Gilles Simon stopped playing because of a right knee injury, while winners included No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro (second consecutive win over an Austrian – Daniel Kollerer – his best Grand Slam), No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez and No. 16 Marin Cilic. “Sometimes, I don’t know why, I just feel a big pain,” said Simon, who added that he’s had problems with the knee since the French Open in May. Simon stopped playing while trailing 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 1-0. It was Ferrero’s second consecutive win despite losing 1st set ‘1-6’. In the second round he overcame Philipp Petzschner 1-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 trailing *1:4 in the 5th set. Roland Garros finalist, Robin Soderling defeated Sam Querrey 6-2, 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-1 – the Swede blew a match point in the 3rd set. In the end, Tommy Hass of Germany, seeded 20th, lost to the No. 10 seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(8), 1-6, 6-4, in an error-plagued five-set encounter. Haas appeared headed for victory in the 5th set with a service break that put him up by 3:1. Then he started making errors and missteps. Serving to stay ahead at 3:2, Haas planted a serve out wide to Verdasco’s backhand, then watched the return come back like a rifle shot, cutting through the court from an angle and streaking past Haas into the far corner. Haas took only a split second to recover, then lifted his racquet and applauded his opponent by patting the palm of his hands against his strings. Finally, serving at 4:5, Haas charged forward and appeared to have pushed Verdasco far too wide to make an effective return. But Haas then poked a forehand volley into the net to set up a match point for Verdasco. In a rally that exceeded 14 shots, Verdasco held on until Haas pushed a forehand wide to end the match after 3 hours 45 minutes. The German could win all three sets he lost: served to win sets Nos. 2 & 3 at 5:4, had a set point leading 6:5 in the tie-break.
Fourth round: (The Sports Network)
The world No. 1 Roger Federer handled 14th-seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 on Labor Day at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center. The amazing Federer has won his last 38 matches in New York and hasn’t lost here since 2003. The 6-foot-9 John Isner, who upset fellow countryman and fifth seed Roddick on Saturday, lost to 10th-seeded Fernando Verdasco as the Spaniard scored a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Verdasco managed to neutralize the serve of his tall opponent – Isner had only 13 aces. That means there will not be an American man in the quarterfinals for the first time in the tournament’s history. “I knew that. I didn’t really care. I wanted to keep it going,” said Isner. “If you would have told me I’d be the last American, only one American to make the final 16, I probably would have thought maybe one or two more would have.” Federer recorded the first break of the match against Robredo to grab a 6:5 edge in the opening set, the held his serve to close out the stanza. The 28-year-old then broke Robredo for a 2:1 lead in the 2nd set and cruised the rest of the way on Day 8 of the fortnight. The Swiss broke the Spaniard to open the 3rd set and barely broke a sweat at Ashe Stadium, as he capped his day with a match-ending ace against the helpless Robredo. “It was a key to get the break and not having to maybe go through the tiebreak,” said Federer. “I was even down break points, so it was kind of tough. Once I got the lead, I could also hit a bit more freely. That didn’t allow him to play his game anymore. I got on top of him and played good tennis.” Federer moved on in 1 hour, 48 minutes with the help of nine aces and five breaks. The super Swiss held his serve throughout the predictable bout and is now 9-0 lifetime against Robredo. Federer’s quarterfinal opponent will be 12th-seeded Robin Soderling, who was defeated by the Basel native in straight sets in June’s French Open final. Federer also beat Soderling in the fourth round at Wimbledon this summer. The Swedish player reached his first-ever U.S. Open quarterfinal by getting past eighth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, as the Russian veteran retired after the 3rd set, citing a leg injury on Monday. In the 1st set Soderling fought off a triple break point at 2:4. Verdasco’s next opponent will be fourth-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic, who eased past 15th seed Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3. Two years before, they played against each other one of the longest matches in the US Open history (in the second round), also won the Serbian player. After the match, Djokovic continued to woo the fans by impersonating John McEnroe, throwing down his racket, demanding the ball and mock-arguing an umpire’s call. Andy Murray‘s US Open campaign came to a surprise end in the fourth round this evening at the hands of Croatia’s Marin Cilic. In the biggest shock of the men’s tournament so far, the world No. 2 and last year’s finalist succumbed in straight sets against the 16th seed, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. Murray went into the contest having beaten the 6’6 20-year-old in their three previous meetings, most recently at the French Open earlier this summer, but this time he had no answer to Cilic’s power. The Scot arrived at Flushing Meadows before the match with his left wrist strapped, but it was unclear how much of a factor the injury was during the defeat. Apart from appearing to grimace in pain at one point, he simply looked flat. After missing two set points when leading 5:4 in the opening set, the momentum was always against Murray. Cilic went on to claim the next six games – taking the set and racing into a 4:0 lead in the 2nd. The Croatian was dictating from the back of the court and backing his big serve up with some impressive net play. In total, Cilic hit 35 winners compared to just 13 by Murray. Cilic will now face Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro for a place in the semi-finals. Del Potro, the No. 6 seed, eased past former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Del Potro, who reached his first grand slam semi-final at this year’s French Open, had 44 winners as he dominated his 24th-seeded opponent in 2 hours, 8 minutes. The 29-year-old Fernando Gonzalez, as his fans like to call him, came through a high-octane slug-fest 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-4 against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, to reach the last eight here for the first time since 2002. Feeding off the energy of the Louis Armstrong crowd, Gonzalez recovered from a slow start before unleashing his bazooka-like forehand to its full devastating effect. “Sometimes you feel like super hero,” Gonzalez told reporters after gathering a few hundred more members of his global fan club with his give-and-take with the crowd. “I understand that the people come to watch, I mean, to have fun. For me, the grand slams are what you always dream to play. I like New York. There is a lot of energy in town. A little bit of stress sometimes, but there’s a lot of energy. I like that.” Gonzalez showed his appreciation by giving away a racket to a lady in the crowd mid-match but the brooding Frenchman, whose decision to try and match his opponent for raw power backfired badly, did not appear amused. After losing a crucial third-set tie-break Tsonga never really looked like taking the match into a deciding set and he buckled under the onslaught at 4:5 in the 4th set, serving two double faults to help 11th seed Gonzalez close it out. Rafael Nadal could soon be back at No. 2 in the rankings after eliminating Gael Monfils of France to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals. Nadal appeared to be back to his healthy, hustling self during a 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 victory on Tuesday night, continuing his bid to complete a career Grand Slam of four majors. “Didn’t have the miles in my legs,” Monfils explained. Nadal, meanwhile, showed no significant signs of problems from either the sore knees that kept him off tour for all of June and July – forcing him to skip a title defense at Wimbledon – or the abdominal muscle issue that flared up during his third-round victory over Almagro. “His defense was very, very strong today,” Monfils said. Nadal did have a small bandage on his stomach again Tuesday, and he did seem to serve conservatively, with no aces and no double-faults.
Quarterfinals: Joshua Robinson
Roger Federer celebrated reaching a 22nd consecutive Grand Slam semi-final but only after being made to work for his US Open victory by the 12th seed, Robin Soderling. Soderling took a set but Federer continued his unbeaten streak against the Swede with a 6-0, 6-3, 6-7(6), 7-6(6) victory in 2 hours 33 minutes. Federer had a 11-0 career record going into last night’s match, their most recent two meetings coming at Wimbledon and in the French Open final. The world No. 1 made it a round dozen in victories over the Swede, reaching the last four after extending his unbeaten run at Flushing Meadows to 39 matches. “This feels great,” Federer said. “It was so close towards the end and it’s just a great relief to come through because Robin just got better and better as the match went on. I knew it was going to be tough but the beginning was a bit too easy and all of a sudden he found his way into the match and showed what a great player he really is.”Federer squandered a 4:0 & 5:2 lead in the 3rd set tie-break, then saved a set point in the 4th set tie-break! He broke Soderling four times in the first two sets, but another two went with 24 consecutive holds. The Swiss faced five break points, struck 28 aces. He could not account for the way the match had shifted away from him having taken a two-set lead in just 59 minutes with some crisp, clean-hitting tennis. “I don’t know, I had a really good start, it was cold so I felt at home being from Switzerland but then it got even cooler and him being from Sweden I think that played in his favour,” Federer joked. “I thought it was a great match towards the end. I got off to a flyer but I’m happy I still got through in the fourth.” Of stretching his record of consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances, Federer added: “It’s not [a record] I aimed for, that’s for sure, but it’s probably one of the greatest records for me in my personal career. I’m just happy it keeps on going. I’m healthy and I guess that’s most important because that’s what has allowed me to play well at majors and I’m in for a shot again to defend my title so that’s fantastic.” In Saturday’s semifinals, Federer will play No. 4 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who eliminated No. 10 Fernando Verdasco of Spain 7-6(2), 1-6, 7-5, 6-2. Like Soderling, Djokovic is a familiar foe. Federer holds an 8-4 head-to-head advantage over Djokovic, which includes wins in the 2007 final and 2008 semifinals at Flushing Meadows. “I don’t think you can ever get your game to perfection, you know. Only if you’re Federer,” Djokovic said. He needed all his dogged defensive skills to stay with Verdasco after dropping his serve three times in a row during a terrible 2nd set. After losing seven straight games from 1:0 up in the second, he then had to fend off a break point in the 2nd game of the 3rd set when another break might have swung the momentum completely in Verdasco’s favor. At 5:5 in the third Verdasco blazed a volley wastefully long to hand Djokovic two break point chances at 15/40 and although he saved them, a dumped forehand did give the Serb a 6:5 lead. Djokovic served out for a two sets to one lead and with his opponent struggling with an abdominal problem, he made short work of the fourth with some commanding tennis. “The dangerous thing about Verdasco is to let him take over the control of the match, because he’s physically very strong,” Djokovic said. “He stepped it in, played very aggressive, and he deserved that second set. I managed to come back, and that’s what matters,” he said. Djokovic is hosting children of victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks at the U.S. Open, inviting kids to sit in his guest seats at matches. “It’s something that I have been going through, as well, something similar in my past, you know, through the war and all these things,” said Djokovic, who himself comes from a war-torn country. Marin Cilic’s birthplace in the mountains between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina has about 4,000 residents. Most of them raise livestock or grow tobacco and, supposedly, they also produce a decent wine. But the competition to be the town’s biggest sensation is steep. In June 1981, seven years before Cilic was born in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared there to six children. Cilic is doing his best to work his name into local lore, but it will take a lot more than his first appearance in a Grand Slam quarterfinal to upstage an apparition. On Thursday, Cilic lost to Juan Martin del Potro, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1. Cilic may even look for advice from Del Potro, whose meteoric rise the last couple of years has made him a dark-horse contender at every tournament he plays. Del Potro capitalized on the progress he made during his memorable 2008 season to make the quarterfinals in three of the last four Grand Slams. “When you fight until the final, you have many opportunities to win, and that’s what I did today,” Del Potro said on the court after his victory. “It’s like a dream. My dream is to win the tournament. I’m so close to it, but now I am focusing on the semis. Of course, I need to improve for the semis a lot, but I’m happy with my match and with the result.” Del Potro turned completely the match around when he won a game trailing *1:3 (0/30) in the 2nd set. The No. 3-seeded Rafael Nadal beat No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez 7-6(4), 7-6(2), 6-0 in a match that began Thursday evening, was suspended that night because of showers in the second-set tiebreaker, and didn’t resume until Saturday thanks to more rain Friday. “I have to admit, I’m pleased that match is finished,” tournament director Jim Curley said. He and Gonzalez originally stepped on court Thursday at about 7 p.m. After Nadal won the first set, he took a medical timeout to have a trainer check his abdominal muscles. Then four games into the second set, there was a 75-minute rain delay. After play resumed, Nadal took a 3:2 lead in the 2nd tiebreaker when they were forced off court for the night. It wasn’t until about 37 1/2 hours later that they picked up again. Nadal swept through four straight points – all on miscues by Gonzalez – to end the second set. “So quick,” Gonzalez said. Things never got better for Gonzalez, who sought treatment from a trainer for his feet and simply kept missing the mark with his big forehand and less-imposing backhand, over and over and over. Gonzalez wound up with 59 unforced errors in all, a read-that-again 46 more than Nadal. What happened? “I can’t tell you,” Gonzalez said, “because I don’t have the answer.”
Semifinals: Lawrence Donega
Juan Martin del Potro will have the chance to cement his reputation as the coming man in world tennis by not only beating Rafael Nadal but in doing so crushing the spirit of the hitherto indefatigable Spaniard. The Argentinian, whose No. 6 world ranking has looked more absurd with every passing day of this championship, swept aside the No. 3 seed in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 victory that was as short (140 minutes) as it was shockingly one-sided. Del Potro will be trying to win his first Grand Slam title, although he was more inclined yesterday to bask in the euphoria created by his victory over Nadal. “This is the best moment of my life,” he said. For Nadal, it was humbling occasion, a reminder that tennis waits for no man, not even a great one. The Spaniard, who was out of the game for over two months during the summer with a knee injury and who suffered an abdominal injury during this tournament, has never been beaten so comprehensively at a Grand Slam. Typically, he refused to cite either his relative lack of match practice or his injury as an excuse for the result. Del Potro has won the last three meetings between the two. “He played really well today, much better than me,” the Spaniard said. “The first two sets were 6-2, but I had a lot of chances to keep the score tighter. You have got to take your chances to play well against these players, top players. If I had done that you never know what would have happened.” He couldn’t convert any of his five break points.Roger Federer played the shot of his life as he reached his sixth consecutive US Open final at Flushing Meadows with a near faultless performance to defeat fourth seed Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Federer won 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5 in 2 hours and 34 minutes during which the Swiss amazed the crowd with a shot he claims every tennis players has tried but that “never really works”. The shot came with Djokovic serving at 6:5 down in the 3rd set. At 30/0 up Federer scampered back to the baseline and hitting a winner through his legs that flew over the net and past Djokovic into the corner for match point. Coming at such a crucial stage of the match made the shot all the more remarkable and Federer said: “That’s why it’s the greatest shot I ever hit in my life. I was in a difficult position, I had nothing to lose. We (practice that) a lot actually but it never works.” The fourth seed had played exceptionally well and made each of the three sets competitive with the victory more a statement of world number one Federer’s brilliance. His winning streak at Flushing Meadows now stretched to 40 matches, Federer said: “It was an unbelievable match, I had a lot of fun again. The end was fantastic with some great shots but Novak had a great tournament and so it was great for me to come through because it was tough.” Federer now faces del Potro, his sixth opponent in as many finals dating back to 2004. “I think he played wonderfully today against Rafa, you always need a good performance to come through against Rafa,” he said of the Argentine. “He’s proved he’s a grand slam contender, he’s not in the final for nothing, and I’m looking forward to playing against him. I had a tough five-set match against him in the French Open semis so it’s nice to see him into the final and I hope I can play a good match.” Both Federer and Djokovic offered up some absorbing tennis over the three sets, and Djokovic had in fact been the first to go ahead, breaking the Federer serve in the 6th game only for the defending champion to earn a triple break point before the Serb double faulted on break point. The opening set went to a tie-break, Federer taking charge with a 5:2 lead. Djokovic fought back with an ace but the world number one earned three set points with an angled forehand return winner, sealing the set by coming into the net to drop a winner from the Serb’s return of serve. The 2nd set also looked to be heading for a tie-break as Djokovic served at 6:5 down, but Federer’s superiority was all too apparent and after a dazzling rally of volleys at the net, a desperate looping response served up a clear winner for Federer, his rival having the time to turn away from the Swiss star and bend over as if to present a target for the champion. It delighted the crowd and brought a smile from Federer, one that broadened when he sealed the second set. The 15-time Grand Slam winner had lost sets in previous rounds to Lleyton Hewitt and Robin Soderling but he had never been beaten in 147 five-set matches having taken the first two sets. It would soon be 148. Djokovic saved break points at 4:3 down and forced Federer to do the same in the next game. Again, Djokovic served at 6:5 down, quickly falling behind at 0/30 before another compelling rally was finished by that remarkable winner from Federer for match point. Djokovic, facing his third defeat in as many years in New York by Federer, including the 2007 final, could only offer a wry smile and he was soon shaking hands at the net as the champion thumped a more conventional winner from a forehand return. “I had the feeling I was close in all three sets,” Djokovic said. “It’s just that when I get close, when I am able to get break points or I’m up a break, I just start making unforced errors. And I don’t want to mention the word ‘luck’ but I didn’t have it today. That’s why I’m a little bit disappointed.”
Final: Simon Cambers
Roger Federer‘s five-year domination of the US Open title came to a stunning end late last night when he was beaten 3-6, 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 by Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro after a pulsating five-set battle that lasted 4 hours 6 minutes. The 20-year-old Del Potro had been struck dumb by nerves in the early stages but, from somewhere deep within, he found a performance of immense courage and class to claim his first Grand Slam title (seven titles at the time) and deny Federer what would have been a 16th major crown and his third of the year. A year that began with floods of tears after defeat by Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open, hit the highs of a first French Open title and a sixth victory at Wimbledon, ended in huge disappointment for Federer as his hopes of a sixth consecutive US Open title ended after more than four hours of incredible tennis. Del Potro became only the second Argentinian to win the US Open, following in the footsteps of Guillermo Vilas, who triumphed at Forest Hills in 1977. It was a win that confirmed the potential many saw in him as a teenager but one that had not looked likely when he came out stricken with nerves for the first set and a half. Federer, looking to equal the American Bill Tilden‘s record of six straight US Open titles set back in the 1920s, served for a two sets to love lead but Del Potro hit back to snatch it on a tie-break. Federer’s serve was malfunctioning badly but he still moved ahead by taking the 3rd set, but after Del Potro won the fourth, the 20-year-old broke in the 2nd game of the decider and held his nerve superbly to claim the title. In warm but breezy conditions, Federer cruised through the 1st set and when Del Potro double-faulted in the opening game of the 2nd, it looked as if the world No. 1 would be unchallenged by the man who pushed him to five sets in the semi-finals of the French Open in June. Del Potro saved a break point trailing 1:3. At 5:4 and 30/0 in the 2nd, Federer was just two points away from a two sets to love lead. But the Argentinian suddenly stepped it up and, after getting back to 30/30, he ripped a brilliant forehand pass down the line to set up a break point. The ball was initially called wide but looked good to the naked eye and Hawk-Eye agreed as Del Potro won the challenge. An angry Federer pointed to what he felt was a mark wide of the sideline and the call seemed to rattle him for when he approached the net on the next point, his backhand volley was timid and Del Potro curled another forehand to break back for 5:5. Both men held to force a tie-break and a shanked forehand long from Federer gave Del Potro the mini-break at 4:3. Two well-played points took him to three set points but the nerves showed as he missed a straight forward smash on the first. Federer saved another to reduce the deficit to 6:5 but the Argentinian held at the third time of asking to level the match. Federer was rattled. The power of Del Potro’s groundstrokes was forcing him deeper and deeper and at times the man many feel to be the greatest ever to play the game was reduced to hacking the ball back into play. At 3:3, an enormous forehand return gave the sixth seed a break point and Federer thumped a wild forehand long to give Del Potro a 4:3 lead. Just when he needed to remain calm, though, the situation caught up with Del Potro and he fell 0/40 down. Though he saved two break points, he could not save the third as he sent a backhand pass well long. The intensity was ramped up and when Federer held for 5:4 it spilled over in the most unlikely fashion. Angry that Del Potro had challenged a call on game point in the previous game having first discussed it at length with the umpire, Jake Garner, Federer launched a tirade at the American. “No, it’s too late,” an angry Federer said. “I wasn’t even able to challenge after two seconds and he takes 10 seconds every time. Do you have any rules in there?” Garner then gesticulated with his hand, to which Federer said: “Don’t do that with your hand. Don’t tell me to be quiet.” Responding to Garner’s comment that Del Potro was talking to him throughout the period before eventually challenging, Federer said: “I don’t give a shit what he said. Don’t fucking tell me the rules.” Maybe that sparked Federer into life or surprised Del Potro for at 30/30 in the following game, the Argentinian double-faulted twice to hand Federer the set, prompting a big roar from the Swiss. Staring down the barrel at 15/40 early in the 4th set, DelPo found two huge forehand winners to save, then broke to love for a 3:2 lead, only to see Federer level at 4:4 with some brave attacking play. Federer was just two points away from the title in game 10 before Del Potro came storming back to earn break points in game 11. But a pulsating encounter would require another tie-break. There was more bad feeling over the use of Hawkeye but it was two missed forehands from Federer that allowed Del Potro to take the match into a 5th set. It was the first time since Andre Agassi beat Todd Martin 10 years ago that the US Open final had gone to a decider, and the experience and fitness of Federer suggested he would start favourite. However, the Swiss paid the price for playing to Del Potro’s fearsome forehand too often, the Argentine breaking for 2:0 with yet another huge winner. Federer had one chance in the next game to get back on serve but put a backhand long, and from then on Del Potro played nervelessly. He reached two championship points on the Federer serve in game eight, converting the second when Federer hit a backhand long. “I had two dreams this week,” said Del Potro. “One was to win the US Open and the other one is to be like Roger. One is done, but I need to improve a lot to be like you,” he said, looking at the five-time champion. “You fought until the final point. You are a great champion. I’m very happy to be here with this crown, with these people, on this court. This will be in my mind forever.” Stats of the final