Monday, September 14, 2015

Djokovic caps sensational year with U.S. Open title

Novak Djokovic, shown en route to the Indian Wells title in
March, came within two sets of winning the Grand Slam this
year. He lost to Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   As it turned out, Novak Djokovic came closer to winning the Grand Slam this year than Serena Williams.
   Djokovic won his third major of 2015 on Sunday, using his mental fortitude, peerless return of serve and sensational defense to frustrate Roger Federer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Djokovic, 28, came within two sets of earning the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf 27 years ago and the first men's Grand Slam since Rod Laver 46 years ago. Djokovic lost to Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the French Open final.
   Williams won the year's first three Slams but faltered against unseeded Roberta Vinci of Italy 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the U.S. Open semifinals on Friday.   
   Djokovic captured his second U.S. Open singles title. The first came in 2011, when he also won three Slams. He owns 10 major titles overall, tied for seventh place with Bill Tilden.
   Federer holds the record with 17 majors, and Rafael Nadal and Pete Sampras are tied for second with 14. Next are Roy Emerson (12), and Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg (11 each).
   Federer, 34, hasn't won a Slam since Wimbledon in 2012. Nadal is in a prolonged slump at 29, although it's too soon to write him off.
Roger Federer played in his U.S. Open final since 2009.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Laver was barred from Grand Slam tournaments for five years in his prime until professionals were allowed beginning in 1968. Emerson, who remained an amateur, won 10 of his Slams during Laver's absence. Borg retired at 26.
   Djokovic evened his head-to-head record against Federer at 21-21.
   Djokovic saved 19 of the 23 break points he faced as the vast majority of the crowd at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium cheered loudly for Federer.
   "You do let certain things distract you," Djokovic said of the crowd's preference. "But it's important to get back on the course and go back to basics and why you are there and what you need to do." 
   Federer, a five-time U.S. Open champion (2004-08), hadn't lost a set in this year's tournament until Sunday. He played in his first final at Flushing Meadows since 2009.
   "Playing a great champion like Novak is a massive challenge," Federer conceded.
   The final was delayed three hours by rain. However, the retractable roof being built over Arthur Ashe Stadium is scheduled to be finished in time for next year's tournament.

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