Sun | Jul 25, 2021

Djokovic, Federer in blockbuster final

Published:Saturday | September 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM


The blockbuster US Open final between No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Roger Federer today is tantalising for so many reasons.

They have built a long and riveting rivalry, with a combined 26 major trophies - a record 17 for Federer, nine for Djokovic.

It will be the fourth Federer vs Djokovic meeting in a Grand Slam final, with Federer winning at the 2007 US Open and Djokovic winning at Wimbledon each of the past two years. And it is their 42nd head-to-head match overall, with Federer barely ahead, 21-20.

"It's just a straight shootout," Federer said, "and I think that's the cool thing about our rivalry. It's very athletic."

He explained that he doesn't feel as if either of them needs to adjust style or tactics too much for their matches, and that, in many ways, they know how to deal with the other's strengths and styles.

"We can both handle ... whatever we present to one another," Federer said. "It's very even."

At the moment, Djokovic is the best baseliner around, contorting his body this way and that, going from defence to offence in a blink, and maybe the best returner around, too. While so much attention was paid to Serena Williams' oh-so-close bid to complete the Grand Slam, Djokovic has gone 26-1 at majors in 2015, with titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon and a runners-up finish at the French Open in between.


Brilliant, attacking tennis


Federer, 34, is playing a brilliant brand of attacking tennis and serving as well as ever, broken twice in 82 games this tournament.

Both should be well rested for today, because both are coming off remarkably easy semi-final victories on Friday that each lasted only about 1 1/2 hours. Djokovic beat defending champion Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 in the most lopsided semi-final in New York in the Open era. Federer eliminated two-time major champion Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

Djokovic will be playing in his sixth final at the U.S. Open, but the only one he won came in 2011.

Federer, a five-time U.S. Open champion, is into his first final at Flushing Meadows since 2009. Each of the following two years, he lost in the semi-finals to Djokovic, each time 7-5 in the fifth set, each time after Federer held two match points.

Lately, it's been Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker, who has been quoted as criticising Federer, including voicing a distaste for the Swiss star's latest manoeuvre. The "SABR" - it stands for "Sneak Attack by Roger" - is when Federer races forward on an opponent's second serve and essentially half-volleys a return while heading to the net.

"It's an exciting shot for him. For the player (on the) opposite side of the net, not so much," Djokovic said, noting he hasn't considered trying it. "So I have nothing else to say about that."