NEW YORK: Four-time defending champion Roger Federer fired 20 aces and advanced to the U.S. Open final with a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Serbian third seed Novak Djokovic on Saturday.
In a re-match of last year’s final that Federer won in straight sets, the Swiss second seed stretched his U.S. Open win streak to 33 matches, having not lost since David Nalbandian beat him in the fourth round in 2003.
“I’m so excited to be back in another final. I really hope I can get it,” Federer said. “Winning here at the Open, it would mean a hell of a lot to me.”
Federer, seeking his 13th career Grand Slam title, will play the winner of the semifinal between World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and British sixth seed Andy Murray in Sunday’s championship match.Chasing records
Federer, who has never lost a U.S. Open semifinal or final, is chasing the all-time record of 14 Slam titles held by Pete Sampras.
In the final, Federer will face a foe who has an edge in their head-to-head rivalry, Murray ahead 2-1 and Nadal having a 12-6 record against Federer, including French Open and Wimbledon finals triumphs this year.
“Who do I prefer? I prefer the trophy. That’s what I prefer,” Federer said. “I guess I prefer Rafa because we have played so many times and we had such a great Wimbledon final.”
By reaching his 17th Slam final, Federer matched Rod Laver for third on the all-time list, one behind Pete Sampras and two shy of Ivan Lendl’s record.
Federer is trying to become the first man to win two Slam events five times in a row, having turned the trick last year at Wimbledon, and would be the first man since Bill Tilden in 1924 to win the U.S. title five times in a row.
Australian Open champion Djokovic would have replaced Federer, as World No. 2 had he won the title here.
Federer connected on 76 per cent of his first serves and pulled out an ace when he desperately needed it on several key points.
“I was pretty happy. They saved me many times,” Federer said. “It has been hard all week to break against the wind. It makes quite a difference in how you construct points. I’ve concentrated quite a bit on my serve and it has helped.”
In the third set, Djokovic netted a forehand to give Federer a break chance in the 11th game and sent a backhand volley long to hand Federer a 6-5 lead. Miraculous save
Federer made a miraculous leaping forehand save of a Djokovic overhead smash on the next point and held to claim the set, then forced Djokovic to save two break points in the first game of the fourth set.
Djokovic surrendered a break in the fifth game and sent a backhand volley wide to give away another in the seventh to hand Federer a 5-2 lead. Federer held serve to end matters after two hours and 45 minutes on a forehand winner.
Federer improved to 7-2 all-time against Djokovic, who ended the Swiss’s run of 10 consecutive Slam finals by beating him in an Australian Open semifinal. Efficient wins
Jelena Jankovic and Serena Williams each had one eye on the weather as they booked their places in the women’s final with efficient victories in blustery conditions on Friday.
With a storm front expected to hit Flushing Meadows later in the day, Serb Jankovic relied on her trademark dogged retrieving to beat Russian Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-4 before the muscular Williams swept away Dinara Safina 6-3, 6-2.
It will be Williams’s 12th Grand Slam final, and Jankovic’s first, and in addition to the silver trophy at stake, the winner will rise to No. 1 in the rankings next week.
“Overall, she’s the strongest player on the tour, together with her sister,” said the second-seeded Jankovic. “Nobody has the power that they have. We cannot compare.”
“I just am excited to still be here,” Williams said, “and, 10 years later, still putting up a major fight.”
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