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Federer laments blown chances in US Open final loss

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NEW YORK —¬†Roger Federer wonders what might’ve been if only he’d converted any of those three break points in the last game of the U.S. Open final.

The crowd roaring, Federer rolling, Novak Djokovic reeling – maybe he could have come all the way back from down two breaks in the fourth set to win in five.

But the Swiss great knows one thing for certain.

“I should have never been down in the first place two sets to one and 5-2,” Federer lamented late Sunday night, still stuck on 17 major titles for at least 4 1/2 more months.

He fell so far behind because his opponent was simply better in the biggest moments. The top-ranked Djokovic was 6 for 13 on break points; Federer was 4 of 23.

“Surely I am very disappointed,” Federer said. “I had my chances on my racket.”

Djokovic won 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a match that followed a similar script to their Wimbledon final – Federer wins the second set but falls in four.

His serve was shaky in the early going Sunday. Federer’s coach, six-time Grand Slam champ Stefan Edberg, said the conditions contributed to that. After a rain delay of more than three hours, the air was cooler and the court slower.

“That’s the way it goes,” Edberg said.

In the fourth set, Federer got one break back the first time Djokovic tried to serve out the match. He had three break points in Djokovic’s next service game to potentially even the set at 5-5. But it was only appropriate that the match ended with Federer creating break-point chances and Djokovic saving them.

“He’s always going to be out there making you play your best if you want to win,” Djokovic said.

After 33-year-old Flavia Pennetta announced her retirement during the women’s trophy presentation Saturday, it was hard not to speculate about the 34-year-old Federer’s future. He quickly answered that question during Sunday’s award ceremony, telling the crowd: “I’ll see you guys next year.”

The fans in New York badly wanted to see him get No. 18. They even cheered Djokovic’s missed first serves Sunday.

“They kept me going, and that’s definitely one of the reasons I still keep playing, because of these moments, goose bump moments,” Federer said later.

He hasn’t felt the goose bumps of a major title since 2012 Wimbledon. But everything the second-ranked Federer sees in his game and his results offers encouragement that he’ll eventually add to his record.

“You still cannot count him out,” Edberg said. “If he keeps playing at this level, he’ll get another shot.”

Anderson beats Querrey to win New York Open title

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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

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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.