Djokovic Wins Second US Open Crown
Novak Djokovic has won his second US Open title, triumphing over Roger Federer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in 3 hours and 20 minutes to win his third major of 2015 and 10th career Grand Slam.
Watched by celebrities including David Beckham, Hugh Jackman, Leonardo DiCaprio and Blake Griffin, the top seeded Djokovic defended sublimely in a match that included 35 winners off his racket and 56 off Federer's. The dominant Serb saved 19 of 23 break points and successfully landed lob returns against the so-called "Sneak Attack By Roger" or SABR tactic, a term coined by Federer which sees him sneak towards the service box to attack his opponent's second serve.
"I won three out of four. It's more than I could ask for, definitely," said Djokovic, adding that he was particularly proud of defeating his Swiss rival in back-to-back Grand Slam finals. "Sitting down here with this trophy and reflecting on what I have achieved, it's quite incredible." The top seed said he knew Federer was going to come out playing aggressive tennis. "He was going to try to disrupt my rhythm...[and] put a lot of variety in his game: slice, chip and charge, come to the net, serve and volley, but I was ready for it. I was ready for the battle...we pushed each other to the limit, as we always do."
On a cool Sunday evening after rain delayed the start of play, Djokovic was forced to battle against the Swiss second seed as well as the pro-Federer crowd that filled Arthur Ashe Stadium. Under the watchful eye of Eva Asderaki-Moore, the first female chair umpire to preside over a US Open men's singles final, the World No. 1 took a tumble in the opening set. Playing on with a scraped knee and elbow, the Serb prevailed to win the opening set, snapping Federer's winning streak of 28 sets, the third-best of his career.
Though Federer lifted his level to snag the second set, momentum swung back to the Serb, who survived a late charge by Federer to serve out the match on his second attempt. The Swiss second seed broke when Djokovic served for the match at 5-2 and had multiple break points at 5-4 15/40, but was unable to break through Djokovic's defense. With the victory, the 28-year old from Belgrade leveled his FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Federer at 21-21. He also tied with Bill Tilden at position No. 7 in the all-time Grand Slam singles titles list.
Djokovic gave credit to the 34-year-old Federer, stating that "he's still improving and keeps on going." "I have tremendous respect for Roger and what his game [presents] to me and any other player," said the World No. 1, who has bagged three majors in the same season for the second time in his career. He also joined Federer and Rod Laver in an elite club: they are the only players in the Open Era to reach all four major finals in a single season. "It's been an incredible season. Next to [the] 2011 season, probably the best of all my life," said the Serb, adding that he's enjoying it more now because he's a husband and a father. "[It] makes it even more sweeter."
"I had a wonderful last two weeks, the whole American trip has been fantastic. I'm very pleased with where my game's at, being back in the finals is where you want to be," said Federer, adding that he believes his game is moving in the right direction. "Playing against a massive champion like Novak is always a challenge," said the Swiss, describing their rivalry as a "good one." "It's always tough playing against one another and I think we walk away from [each match] knowing more about our game."
Appeasing fans that feared Federer may follow women's US Open champion Flavia Pennetta's footsteps by making a retirement announcement, he said with a smile, "I love the sport, I've got a lot of passion for it and one last thing...I'll see you guys next year." The father-of-four said supportive crowds are one of the reasons he keeps competing, referring to the atmosphere on Ashe as creating "goosebump moments."
The 17-time major winner, who must wait until next year's Australian Open to have another chance to win a record 18th Grand Slam, said the "SABR" shot is here to stay. "I think it worked very well, and I'm sure I will use it more in the future against him and many others. It was a really interesting last few months or so looking at that tactic...who knows? Maybe I should have played even more of it. I did get many more looks on the second serve as the match went on," mused Federer, admitting that the loss was disappointing.
The victory reiterates the dominance of the "Big Four", who have won 39 of the past 43 majors, but also gives fans much to look forward to for the next meeting between the top two players in the world. With 42 meetings under their belt, Djokovic and Federer are chasing Djokovic and Nadal's record 44 meetings for the record of most battles in the Open Era.
Winning 3 or more majors in a season in Open Era:
2015 Novak Djokovic (AUS, Wim, US)
2011 Novak Djokovic (AUS, Wim, US)
2010 Rafael Nadal (FRA, Wim, US)
2007 Roger Federer (AUS, Wim, US)
2006 Roger Federer (AUS, Wim, US)
2004 Roger Federer (AUS, Wim, US)
1988 Mats Wilander (AUS, FRA, US)
1974 Jimmy Connors (AUS, Wim, US)
1969 Rod Laver (AUS, FRA, Wim, US)