Once again, Novak Djokovic was the antidote to Roger Federer on a roll.
After stopping Federer in this year’s Wimbledon final, Djokovic did the same on Sunday in the United States Open final, prevailing despite a hostile crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium and underscoring his status as the world’s No. 1 player.
Djokovic’s 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory gave him a second U.S. Open singles title and a 10th Grand Slam singles title, moving him into a tie with Bill Tilden for seventh place on the career list.
Federer remains on top of that pecking order with 17, but Djokovic has prevented him from adding to his record total.
He is playing remarkable tennis at age 34, but Djokovic, at 28, is in his prime and remains one of the great tennis conundrums for any opponent with his tactical versatility and peerless defensive skills.
Federer has fared much better than most, and their rivalry is the best the men’s game has to offer at the moment with Rafael Nadal in a slump.
They have played 42 times, and Djokovic’s victory on Sunday tied the series, 21-21.
It is a contrast in styles, even more so now that Federer has recommitted to the attack under his co-coach Stefan Edberg, the former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion who was a net-rushing marvel at his peak.
But Djokovic is hardly just a defender. He takes plenty of risks of his own and is particularly adept at transforming seeming vulnerability into offense when extended into the corners of the court.
Hardcourts have traditionally been his best canvas, suiting his movement and precise footwork best. But U.S. Open finals have been more stumbling blocks than showcases for Djokovic. He had lost four of the five in which he had played until Sunday.
This victory did not come easily. First, it was a waiting game with the final delayed more than three hours by rain.
When it began, it became apparent that Djokovic would be playing on the road, with the sellout crowd at Ashe Stadium giving Federer nothing but positive reinforcement and greeting Djokovic’s winners with polite applause at best.
Interactive Feature | 2015 U.S. Open
After breaking Federer in the third game, Djokovic lost his balance while changing direction in the next game and fell hard to the blue court, scraping his right forearm and …Read More