Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Djokovic's Great Escape

For American tennis fans dreaming of a Rafael Nadal–Roger Federer final at the U.S. Open — it has never happened — Novak Djokovic played spoiler for a second straight year. Incredibly, Djokovic survived two straight match points, also for a second consecutive year, in a semifinal match against Federer to earn a berth against Nadal in the final. This year, Federer was on serve, leading 5-3 in the fifth set, up 40-15 in the game. (Federer had won the first two sets, but Djokovic bounced back to force the fifth.) The pro-Federer crowd was screaming for him. Off a 108-m.p.h. (174 km/h) Federer serve that kicked to Djokovic's right, the Serbian star, 62-2 for the year heading into the match, decided to go for it. Though off-balance, Djokovic somehow ripped a cross-court winner that barely touched the line. After his stunning shot, Djokovic raised his arms and asked for a little New York City love. He got it, then went on to win that game, and the match, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. Djokovic, who had already won the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier in the year, knocked off Nadal in the final, giving him his third Grand Slam title of the year.