Getty/AP

US Open men’s final features No. 1 Djokovic, No. 2 Federer

Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) The blockbuster U.S. Open final between No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Roger Federer on Sunday is tantalizing for so many reasons.

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

This matchup will be their 14th at a Grand Slam tournament, more than any other pair of men in tennis’ Open era, which dates to 1968. Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have played each other 13 times at majors, Federer and Nadal 11, and John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl 10.

It will be the fourth Federer vs. Djokovic meeting in a Grand Slam final, with Federer winning at the 2007 U.S. 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 defense to offense 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 runner-up finish at the French Open in between.

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 Sunday, because both are coming off remarkably easy semifinal victories 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 semifinal 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 semifinals to Djokovic, each time 7-5 in the fifth set, each time after Federer held two match points.

After his 2011 loss, Federer scoffed at the return winner Djokovic hit to erase a match point, comparing him to a kid who swings away with his eyes closed because, well, he’s got nothing to lose.

“I never played that way,” Federer said that day. “I believe in the hard-work’s-going-to-pay-off kind of thing, because early on, maybe I didn’t always work at my hardest. So for me, this is very hard to understand how can you play a shot like that on match point. But, look, maybe he’s been doing it for 20 years, so for him it was very normal. You’ve got to ask him.”

Lately, it’s been Djokovic’s coach, Boris Becker, who has been quoted as criticizing Federer, including voicing a distaste for the Swiss star’s latest maneuver. 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.”

A reporter told Federer that Becker reportedly characterized the “SABR” as something that disrespects opponents.

“No, it’s not disrespectful,” Federer replied. “Pretty simple.”

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Anderson beats Querrey to win New York Open title

AP Photo
Leave a comment

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) Kevin Anderson had already dealt with the disappointment of falling short in a final in New York.

His surprising run to the U.S. Open final last summer jump-started his climb back into the top 10, but his loss to Rafael Nadal was a painful reminder that he kept coming up short at the finish line.

Back in New York this week, he finally got the ending he wanted.

The top seed won the first New York Open on Sunday, beating No. 2 seed Sam Querrey 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1) for his fourth career ATP Tour title.

Anderson came into Sunday 3-11 in ATP Finals, with one loss already this year.

“I have been runner-up quite a few times in my career,” Anderson said. “One of the big goals I had for this year was to try to be a bit more successful in that final stage. I fell a little short earlier this year in India and it feels great to come through and get today’s win. So, gives me a lot of confidence for the year.”

The South African dominated the tiebreaker after a tight third set, winning the first six points and leading Querrey to slam his racket to the court in frustration.

Anderson will move to career-high ninth in the ATP rankings Monday, continuing a strong rise that began in nearby Flushing Meadows when he reached his lone Grand Slam final as the world’s No. 32 player, the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist since the inception of the rankings in 1973.

He won his first title since 2015, when he made his only other appearance in the top 10 when he was ranked 10th for one week in October. Anderson won four consecutive three-set matches in the tournament’s first year at Nassau Coliseum after moving from Memphis, Tennessee.

“Obviously, during U.S. Open was a terrific few weeks for me. It was tough to lose in the finals so it feels very special to get today’s win,” Anderson said.

Querrey remained at 10 ATP titles, snapping a three-match winning streak in finals. He would have risen to a career-best No. 11 with a victory.

Querrey had held serve in 37 of 38 games entering this week before Anderson broke him in the second game of the final for a 2-0 lead. Querrey broke right back and broke Anderson again later in the set to move ahead.

The second set started the same way. Anderson broke again in the second game, but this time held in the third to seize control of the set en route to a 5-0 lead.

“I just kind of lost a little bit of momentum,” Querrey said. “He picked his game up, he started making a few more first serves. Feel like he was hitting the ball a little bigger, making a few more. Then I kind of got some momentum back at the end of the second there but it was kind of too little, too late.”

In the doubles final, the second-seeded team of Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Philipp Oswald of Austria edged Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Artem Sitak of New Zealand 4-6, 6-4, 10-6 in a match tiebreaker. For the 40-year-old Mirnyi, it was his 100th career ATP Tour final, with 96 having come in doubles.

Federer overpowers Dimitrov to win 97th career title

AP Photo
Leave a comment

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) Roger Federer came to the ABN AMRO World Tournament aiming to secure a return to the top of the world rankings. He achieved that goal Friday. On Sunday, he put an exclamation point on a remarkable week by winning the tournament for good measure.

Federer overpowered an ailing Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in less than an hour to win his 97th career title.

“What a week it’s been. Absolutely amazing,” Federer said. “The goal was to make the semis and I won the tournament so of course I’m incredibly excited and so, so happy.”

The 36-year-old Swiss extended his domination over the player once dubbed “Baby Fed” for the similarities in their playing style, registering his seventh victory in as many meetings.

Federer’s third title at the Rotterdam tournament comes a day before he officially returns to the top of the rankings, more than five years after he was last world No. 1.

He will become the oldest person to hold the No. 1 position when the rankings are updated on Monday. It’s been more than five years since Federer was last No. 1, and 14 years since he first reached the top spot.

Federer, who has 20 Grand Slams to his name, said his next target is 100 career titles. He moved a step closer Sunday.

Federer said ahead of the final that the more aggressive player would win and Dimitrov started the strongest, winning his first game to love as he slammed powerful forehands and backhands past Federer.

But the Swiss great quickly started matching Dimitrov’s groundstrokes and converted his first break point in the fifth game. Federer broke Dimitrov again to go up 5-2 and then served out the set.

Federer kept the pressure on Dimitrov in the second set, breaking the Bulgarian in the first game and continuing to dominate on his way to victory in just 55 minutes.

Federer won a massive 82 percent of points on his service compared to 55 percent for Dimitrov.

After his strong start, the Bulgarian appeared to be struggling physically, but said afterward that he simply wasn’t good enough.

“Against Roger in the current situation he is in you can’t play any less than 100 percent,” Dimitrov said.