Knee Ends Wozniacki’s Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In the pale moonlight over Louis Armstrong Stadium, the sunset for Sunshine at the US Open.

Caroline Wozniacki was sent home after a first round defeat to Irina –Cameila Begu 2-6 2-6. In a stunning loss where the former US Open runner-up was favoring her right knee.

“You know, you always want to go in and do your best no matter what’s happening out there,” she said.  “I tried.  I didn’t succeed to play well.  I didn’t play particularly well, made too many errors.

“You know, it’s unfortunate because it’s a huge tournament, a tournament you want to play well in.”

With her right knee tightly wrapped, Wozniacki couldn’t muster her usual baseline speed that makes her so dangerous. She was at the Romanian’s mercy as she couldn’t catch-up to the baseline shots.

“I haven’t really had a machine out there measuring,” Wozniacki said. “I definitely felt like I couldn’t hit through her today and I couldn’t hit past her like I wanted to.  When she had the opportunity, she went in and finished off the point.”

During the second set and down a break, Wozniacki brought out the medical trainer to check and re-wrap her knee. It really didn’t help as Begu was able to break her later in the set and Wozniacki couldn’t do anything on the return service.

And that makes for the first major upset of the Open. A mainstay in the second week, Wozniacki will be missed. Even though she was seeded eighth this year, her lowest since 2009, she did have the star power to make it through the first week.

Now she goes home early wondering what’s next.

“You know, the year’s not done yet,” Wozniacki said.  “Obviously definitely the Grand Slams this year hasn’t been great.  You know, after the year is finished you can evaluate you can see what was good and wasn’t so good, yeah, work from there.”

“I still have plenty of years in me.  Hopefully I can just turn it around and play even better.”

If her knee heals, she probably can.

Life Comes To Ferrero At The Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – With all the focus on the young players at this year’s US Open, it is almost easy to overlook Juan Carlos Ferrero, who went back to the future and partied like it was 2003 today in Queens.

Ferrero didn’t drive a DeLorean, nor did he take some sort of youth pills in his five set classic over the 7th seed Gael Monfils, winning, 7-6(5) 5-7 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4. Rather he did it the old fashioned way – he became healthy.

“I still having little bit problems with my hip,” he said.  “I have some pain.  But I played two matches, five sets.  I’ve been testing too much right now.  But I think I’ll be okay to play in good conditions next round.”

After winning his first round match against the 45th ranked Pablo Andujar, Ferrero fought through against Monfils, the highly ranked Frenchman, who many had pegged to go to at least the quarterfinals.

The 2003 US Open runner-up had different plans.

“I mean, this match means a lot for me because, like I said, it was a long time that I didn’t enjoy inside the court,” said Ferrero, who is now ranked 105th in the world. “Today was very physically match all the time, but I think I played the whole match a very good level.

“Maybe the serve wasn’t work very well in the whole match.  But from the baseline I was trying to be very aggressive all the time and move him because, you know, his moves are very good.  So it’s always tough to play against such a good player.”

Ferrero fought through trainer’s visits early in the match for his foot and then later on to treat blisters on his hands, but nothing that will hinder him in the later rounds. Instead, he thought it was the humidity at Flushing Meadows Park which caused the problems.

“Yeah, it was only, you know, maybe because it was a long time that I didn’t play such a long match,” he thought. “Also because of the humid.  For skin, it’s tough to get normal all the time.  Is, you know, problems of the matches.  I think I’ll be okay.”

Today Ferrero reminded the packed Luis Armstrong Stadium of the player who beat Andre Agassi back in 2003 and then lost to that up and comer Andy Roddick.

“Of course the year that I get No. 1 here in semifinals against, you know, I beat Agassi,” he recalled. “I always like to watch him on the TV when I was young.  So was big opportunity for me that year. Was a pity to not win the tournament.  But, you know, was great.”

Yet, it was a career that was derailed by injuries recently and had surgery on his left wrist and right knee last October. After losing in the first round in Madrid, Ferrero was hinting at retirement at the tender age of 31, but held on for this Open run.

And today, the man nicknamed the Mosquito because of his fancy footwork around the baseline fought back the younger Monfils delivering back all the Frenchman could give him.

He only had two aces to Monfils 21 while keeping his unforced errors down to 52 compared to his opponent’s 81.

Ferrero will try to keep it going in the third round against 31st ranked Marcel Granollers.

Gilles Simon Wins Metz

Open de Moselle

ATP WORLD TOUR 250 €398,250 (€450,000 Total Financial Commitment)
Metz, France (+2 hours GMT)
20-26 September, 2010 Surface: Indoor Hard www.ATPWorldTour.com

RESULTS – SUNDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER, 2010

Singles – Final
[8] G Simon (FRA) d [Q] M Zverev (GER) 63 62

Doubles – Final
D Brown (JAM) / R Wassen (NED) d [2] M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA) 63 63

Read match reports at ATPWorldTour.com

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID

Simon: “I am extremely happy about this seventh title. I was not supposed to come here initially; my son was due to be born this week so logically I hadn’t entered any tournaments. Because I had been playing well, also in the Davis Cup preparation, I really wanted to try to compete and really wanted to come to Metz; I knew I could do something good.

“My son was born on 2nd September, so I haven’t spent much time with him yet. As I decided to play this week I also decided to bring the family with me to Metz. I was in the unknown, I didn’t know how it was going to be, if he would keep me up at night, and in the end, the result is perfect. Everything went very well and I am delighted to get to share this title with my family today.

“It hasn’t been an easy year because of the injury and I am really happy about this victory. During my time off, I strengthened my upper body to try to improve my serve, to serve stronger and for longer and this week. My serve is what kept me in the matches even if I wasn’t playing so well.”

Zverev: “I was really excited to be in my first final, but he played really well. Not only solid from the baseline as he is usually, but also aggressive as well, he served unbelievably. I couldn’t do much today. I love France and French tournaments, I feel great here and for sure I will come back.”

Brown: “I am so happy; this is my first ATP-level title. It feels great. I am happy I was able to convince Roger to come as we were the first alternate team. He was home three hours away, wanting to take some time off, and I managed to convince him. We recently won two Challengers so we had confidence and I must say we played good all week.”

Wassen: “Being the first alternate team I really didn’t want to come to Metz. I was home, planning on taking the week off, but I am so happy I ended up coming. Dustin and I have opposite personalities, opposite games and I think we complement each other very well on the court. It’s a pleasure to play with him and I look forward to continuing to play with him.”

Zvonareva Goes To Finals After Darkening Sunshine

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It was fitting the clouds started to cover the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center after Vera Zvonareva whisked Caroline Wozniacki out of the tournament, because Sunshine set.

The Russian’s 6-4 6-3 win over the No. 1 seed raised a few eyebrows – especially the CBS executives who wanted to see the rising star in the finals – but it didn’t surprise the hardcore tennis fans, who saw Zvonareva lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon finals. Much like Wozniacki, she is also a rising star, who went from the 21st seed at Roland Garros to No. 7 here in Flushing.

“I always believe in myself,” Zvonareva said.  “I always believe I can beat anyone on the other side of the net if I’m able to play my best tennis.  There is nothing really changed for me, you know.  I know I’m not gonna play perfect tennis all the time, like most of the players, but that’s what we all trying to do.

“I know if I’m doing it, if I’m playing well, I can beat anyone.”

Today she proved just that. Controlling the match from the outset, the 26 year-old was able to break and then hold Wozniacki during the third game of the first set to easily cruse to a 6-4 win.  Zvonareva was able to control the match from the baseline, putting her younger opponent on heels, running from side to side, trying to track down balls.

“I think it’s the same probably as the previous match, very similar,” Zvonareva said. “It’s the right balance between being patient and being aggressive.  You know, with those windy conditions you have to play sometimes ugly, you know.  You don’t have to expect to play your best tennis.”

“That’s what I did well.  I was not expecting to play my best tennis, but, you know, I was trying to be patient when I needed, and step up when I got the chance.”

She got chances also early in the she when she went up a break, but Wozniacki broke back to show some fight. Yet, that game was the last the Pilot Pen winner won, as Zvonareva was able to break back and then serve for the win.

“She played a really good game, definitely,” Wozniacki said.  “You know, she was not missing a lot.  She was going for her shots.  Most things were going in.  You know, I had chances, and I don’t know, I made some mistakes today that I usually don’t do.

“Yeah, it was a tough day for me in the office, and unfortunately it was today.  That’s the way tennis is sometimes.”

Now Zvonareva will look for her first Grand Slam win by taking on Kim Clijsters tomorrow night. It will be a very interesting matchup as Clijsters is undefeated in Flushing Meadows since her comeback last year and leads the head to head matchup 5-2, but the two losses came this year. One at Wimbledon and then later this summer in Montreal.

“Any match with Kim will come down to the tough challenge, you know,” Zvonareva said.  “She’s a great mover on the court.  She has a lot of experience.  She won here last year.  You know, it’s going to be tough.  You know, we played a couple of matches for the past couple of months, but those matches are in the past.

“I will think about what worked the best for me, and I will try to take it with me tomorrow, and, you know, do it again.  Those things that didn’t work well for me, I tried to avoid them.  That’s it.”

And as for Wozniacki, it’s back to the drawing board for her Grand Slam, but as Annie once sung, “The sun will come out tomorrow.”

That means Sunshine as well.

Verdasco Wins An Epic Battle Over Ferrer

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Fernando Verdasco spent this New York night engaged in an epic tennis tug-of-war with compatriot David Ferrer with neither man giving an inch over five sets and four hours, 23 minutes of scintillating shotmaking that seemed to cover every available inch of court. Grinding his teeth, screaming at himself at times and hurling his body all over the court in pursuit of every ball, a combative Verdasco competed with all the tenacity of a man fighting his way out of a rugby scrum in roaring back from a two-set deficit and a 1-4 chasm in the fifth-set tie breaker.

When Verdasaco’s match point moment came, he seized it with the most electrifying effort of the match.

Running down a Ferrero shot well behind the baseline, Verdasco stumbled slightly, regained his balance then sprinted forward to lift a lunging forehand pass up the line  — an exceptional exclamation point to punctuate a 5-7, 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory that vaulted Verdasco into the US Open quarterfinals for the second straight year.

“After I lost the first two sets, of course, it’s tough,” Verdasco said. “You just need to win all the other sets. I came back till the fifth set and of course even that I was 4-1 down in the tie break, I was not going to say ‘Okay, that’s it. I was going to try my best until the end. I was, of course, with 4-1 down in teh tie break  much more chances to lose than to win, but I just kept fighting and trying.”

When Verdasco saw Ferrer near net, he anticipated the volley, streaked forward on a diagonal line and was near the doubles alley when he caught up to the ball. Reaching the ball was a feat in itself, it’s what Verdasco did with it that will make this shot one for the highlight reel.

Seeing a sliver of space up the line, he squeezed his stretch forehand down the line, watched the ball land and then fell flat on his back, staring straight up into the white lights as the crowd exploded in support.

“(It) is tough to explain. You are with your sixth sense in the ball knowing how important that is just trying to run, fight,” Verdasco said. “When I did the backhand along the line passing shot, I was like even surprised that he took the volley. Of course my reaction was just keeping the point and start running forward…So I start running I just saw the space. When you see there is a little bit of space, you just try to put the ball in. It was like unbelievable.”

The eighth-seeded Spaniard will face World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the first all-Spanish US Open quarterfinal in Open Era history. Nadal crushed a crackling forhand winner to conclude an impressive 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 23rd-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

Will Verdasco, who is winless in 10 career meetings with Nadal, have any legs left for the quarterfinal?

“I hope that this is gonna give me big confidence, this match,” Verdasco said. “And I also hope to be 100 percent physically after a tough match like today to play against one player like Nadal that you need to be like 100 percent to try to face him, to try to beat him. I will just try to do all the things right and good as best as possible. Everybody knows that he’s No. 1 in the world; he’s a great plaeyr. My record is not too good against him. But I will keep trying and keep fighting to make the first time here.”

It was a crushing loss for Ferrer, who had not dropped a set in his three tournament wins.

The 10th-seeded Ferrer was three points from victory at 4-1 in the tie breaker, but could not seal the deal.  Verdasco cracked a crosscourt backhand winner then took advantage of three Ferrer errors to earn match point.

Speaking in a clear, quiet voice with a half-full bottle of Evian at his finger tips, Ferrer was left ruing the match that slipped through his fingers.

“Verdasco played really well,” Ferrer said. “But from 4-1 up, I play so bad, so bad. I have a chance in the third set and he played really good. I fight a lot, as hard as I could. It was difficult one.”

It was such a ferociously fought match, Verdasco actually apologized to Ferrer in the locker room after the match.

“He told me ‘Well done.’ ” Verdasco said. “I told him, like ‘I’m really sorry.’ Then I told him like you know that we need to keep fighting to be both in the Masters Cup. We have a great relationship. Of course when you lose a match like this today for him, if I lost this match for sure I (would be) so upset and pissed in the locker room. But at the end we are good friends and I want (for) him the best.”

They brought out the best in each other tonight.

Richard Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Davydenko Dumped by Gasquet

Sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko became the highest-seeded man to fall from the US Open field in suffering a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 second-round setback to Richard Gasquet on the Grandstand court. The two-time US Open semifinalist had a visceral response to his loss —  Davydenko is prepared to get trashed.

Actually, the 29-year-old Russian is ready to toss his racquets in the trash. Davydenko, who endorses Dunlop and wears Dunlop apparel has been playing with his old, unmarked Prince frame, but vowed to throw those in the garbage and actually begin playing with Dunlop in his next tournament.

“I talked to my brother and I will change all my racquets,” Davydenko said after the match. “I will completely change to Dunlop and throw all of my (old) racquets in the garbage.”

While the frames will take the fall for the lose, Davydenko, who missed 11 weeks after breaking his left wrist in Indian Wells and has won back-to-back matches just once since launching his comeback in June in Halle, concedes his issues may be more mental than physical or technical.

“I don’t know if it’s a wrist problem or a head problem,” Davydenko said, stretching his legs out before him and staring down at his shoelaces for a moment. “After my injury, I play everything bad. I change from 18-string Prince to play 16-string during hard courts to try to get more control and top spin, but I have no confidence, no baseline game.”

In addition to an equipment change, he’s contemplating a head change.

“Maybe I need to go somewhere to change my brain,” Davydenko deadpanned.

It was the first meeting between the pair in five years and while Davydenko hugs the baseline, takes the ball earlier and theoretically should be able to take the first strike in rallies it was Gasquet who took control in the baseline rallies in registering his second top 10 win of the season and first since he claimed his sixth career title beating Fernando Verdasco in Nice.

The 38th-ranked Frenchman has top 10 talent, who reached the US Open round of 16 in both 2005 and 2006, will play either No. 26 seed Thomaz Bellucci or big-serving Kevin Anderson for a place in the fourth round.

Asked to assess Gasquet’s level of play, Davydenko sounded stumped.

“It’s tough  for me to say because I cannot return first serve. He was just pushing me back in the middle with high balls and I was destroying myself.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Down Goes Roddick

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Andy Roddick stepped on the line then tumbled out of the US Open second round tonight. Janko Tipsarevic out served, out fought and out hustled Roddick, scoring a stirring 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory that sent Roddick to his earliest Flushing Meadows exit since he lost to Gilles Muller in the opening round five years ago.

The tattoos that adorn his arms combined with with the sports spectacles on his face make Tipsarevic look a little bit like a biker moonlighting as a philosophy professor. The explosive Serbian stood up to the ninth-seeded American and a pro-Roddick crowd cracking 66 winners against just 30 unforced errors.

“I thought I hit the ball pretty well,” Roddick said. “I thought he played very high-risk and executed for four sets. I kept telling myself this has to have an expiration date on it. Unfortunately, I needed another set for that.”

In the fourth-set tie breaker, Roddick sent a backhand beyond the baseline and Tipsarevic followed with a backhand volley winner for 4-2. Attacking net again, Tipsarevic forced Roddick to come up with a pass, but his backhand found the net and it was 5-2.

On the longest point of the set, a 19-shot physical exchange, Tipsarevic sent a backhand long as Roddick creeped closer at 4-5. But Tipsarevic launched his 5-foot-11 inch frame into a stinging serve down the middle and Roddick flailed a forehand return into net giving the Serbian, whose black beard seemed to grow longer during the three hour, 18 minute encounter, a match point.

Tipsarevic again attacked, anticipated Roddick’s reply and blocked a backhand volley winner down the line to wrap up his second win over Roddick in a major. He beat the former World No. 1 in the second round of the 2008 Wimbledon.

At net, Roddick congratulated Tipsarevic with both praise and a playful death threat.

“He said ‘Well done, man. You played great,’ ” Tipsarevic recalled. “And he said ‘If you lose early, I’m going to kill you.’ He said ‘You beat me at Wimbledon and now if you lose early, I’m going to freaking kill you.’ ”

Roddick says he’s recovered from the case of mononucleosis that plagued him earlier this summer yet the malaise continues to cripple his game.

The 2003 US Open champion played some of the best tennis of his career in reaching successive Masters finals in Indian Wells and Miami where he dispatched Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych back-to-back to capture the Sony Ericsson Open.

He returned to New York to contest his 11th consecutive US Open leading the ATP Tour in hard-court wins but looked reluctant to unload on his forehand and didn’t consistently delve into the corners of the box on his second serve. It was as if Roddick was waiting for Tipsarevic to tumble out of the zone, but that moment never arrived.

While Roddick rightly gave Tipsarevic the credit he deserves for producing some spectacular winners on down the line drives, the truth is Roddick simply did not take enough risk and play with enough aggression and ambition when it mattered most.

A  cranky Roddick erupted in anger when hit with a foot fault call while serving at 2-5 in the third set. The lineswoman correctly called the foot fault but incorrectly claimed Roddick’s right rear foot dragged on the baseline when it fact replay showed his left lead foot slid across the line.

An irate Roddick continuously harangued the lineswoman throughout the rest of the game, and was fired up enough to hold for 3-5. Roddick’s problems began before that call as Tipsarevic took advantage of Roddick’s timid tendency to hit straight down the middle.

A half-step slow to a slice backhand, Roddick shoveled that shot long and fell into a 0-30 hole. Roddick slapped a stiff-armed backhand beyond the baseline to face triple break point then bounced his blue Babolat frame off his court in disgust falling into a triple break point hole. Roddick saved the first break point but on the second he was stranded at net and stuck his racquet out like a man waving a cane in vain at a passing train as Tipsarevic blew a backhand pass by him down the line to break for 4-2.

With the exception of a few plaintive “come on Andy” exhortations, the crowd was as deflated as Roddick when Tipsarevic fired his 10th ace past a lunging Roddick to hold for 5-2.

The foot fault call came in the ensuing game inciting an incredulous Roddick to ask chair umpire Enrique Molina “Have you ever seen my right foot step over the line?” Molina shook his head.

“That is unbelievable! My right foot?” said Roddick, who wandered around the back of the court posing variations of that question to Molina, the lineswoman, coach Larry Stefanki and even in th direction of Tournament Referee Brian Earley, who was camped out in the corner of the court.

“Tell me one time my right foot has ever gone ahead of my left foot in my entire career,” Roddick said, seemingly unaware that in fact it was his left foot that touched the baseline. “If it’s my left foot don’t say it’s my right foot,” Roddick said.

Tipsarevic, who had lost only two points on serve in the third  set, fell to 30-all when serving for the set. Roddick had a shot to break back, but Tipsarevic hit a forehand volley winner to earn set point. Roddick attacked net but did not do enough with a volley, Tipsarevic ran it down and rifled a pass to seize the set.

The fired-up Serbian celebrated with a Lleyton Hewitt-esque viche, pointing his finger tips toward his eyes and fist -pumping to his box.

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

The French Brings Chnages

Ah, spring in Paris and yes that means the French Open is underway at Roland Garros.

The second major of the season may be the toughest of the four majors to win. The clay courts at Roland Garros make it tough for many of the top players, as they are used to the hard courts or grass.

And in the first three days, there have been a few scares out there. Yesterday, Andy Murray – who was also feeling under the weather – dropped the first two sets to Richard Gasquet, only to rebound to make the second round.

Then earlier today, Andy Roddick, who seems primed to finally win another major this season, had to survive a five-setter against Jarkko Nieminen, 6-2  4-6 4-6 7-6  6-3.

“It’s not easy,” Roddick said.  “I mean, definitely, you know, spending three days in bed in Madrid wasn’t the way we wrote it up, you know. That was bad. That was not, you know, the preparation we wanted. We did the best we could. We scrambled last week and got two matches out at an XO. You know, XO is never the same.

“You know, so as far as preparation physically and in practice, it was good. But, you know, like you mentioned, it’s or like I mentioned, it’s not the same.

“It definitely was less than perfect, but I put some time in today.”

The biggest problem is the footing. Players enjoy stopping on a dime, which isn’t there with the clay courts. Instead they slip, putting uneasiness in their games as they slide up and down the baseline.

That’s why the clay court specialists seem to dominate with Rafael Nadal dominating the men’s side up until last year and the woman’s draw seems to be wide open.

Murray has season winning the French will be a physical and mental challenge. It’s a very different type of hit on the ball where they have to put more topspin on the return in order to get the right bounce.

“I think the ceiling is a little bit different on clay for me, but the mindset of going into a day doesn’t change. You go in and you try and battle and do the best you can. You see what happens.”

“I think the option of how you go about it is pretty simple. I’m aware that it’s probably on a worse surface. I’m aware of the challenges that it brings. Doesn’t change going into a day what I want to accomplish.”

Of course, there are weather issues as well. Spring Parisian showers mean muddier courts, slowing down the match to almost a crawl. Roland Garros is planning putting a roof on its new center court, but that’s going to be completed in 2013 or 2014, so that’s something else they needs to be dealt with.

All of this means it will be a very interesting two week. Expect an upset or two along the way, because with the clay courts, you never know what will happen.

Wozniacki Has Bright Future Ahead

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It’s not easy losing the US Open after a tremendous run, but Caroline Wozniacki has nothing to be embarrassed about.

“There was nothing I could do anymore,” she said. “I lost the last point and I lost the match. She just played better than me. I really did my best. I tried my hardest, and I had a great two weeks. I think it’s just about enjoying the moment, enjoy and enjoy that you were in the finals and just be happy about that.

“Because, I mean, if I started saying, Oh, I should have won, I should have done this and that, I think that would be kind of a sin. I’ve really done great, and I think I should be proud what I’ve achieved.”

Wozniacki didn’t lose the match because she wasn’t talented enough to stay with champion Kim Clijsters – losing 5-7, 3-6 – but the 19 year-old lacked experience. You can see it in the first set as the veteran Belgian lost four games in a row, but then started to make adjustments to Wozniacki’s game.

And although, Wozniacki was two points away from the set, Clijsters would not let her Danish counterpart close her out.

That’s the mark of a champion.

“The first couple of games I wanted to get into the match,” Wozniacki said. “I wanted to just know what I’m up against, and I fast found out that I’m up against a really strong player that doesn’t give away any free points.

“I really had to fight for it. I mean, she played really well. She played aggressive. I mean, yeah, she’s playing really well.”

Clijsters used her experience to move up on Wozniacki as the match went on. Playing on the baseline for most of the first set, she learned that she could come in and volley the ball against her opponent.

The first set was also a return game with six breaks and neither player establishing their serve, but Clijsters was able to do that in the second, which made Wozniacki easy pickings.

“Actually, I feel like I’ve been serving really well the whole tournament, and also today I had parts where I was serving well,” Wozniacki said. “I think, I need some more experience. And, I mean, of course, when I came to the net I was doing the right thing. Sometimes I just missed, and that’s tennis. You can’t hit everything straight.

“But of course all the volleys I wished I could have, you know, finished them up.”

That will come in time. Wozniacki established herself as a force on the tour this year with seven finals under her belt. Although for the first week and a half of the tournament the story was Melanie Oudin, this 19 year-old was the real story and one that has a very bright future ahead.

“Obviously I don’t like losing,” she said. I’m a competitor and I love winning. But I think I’ve had some great weeks here. I mean, I was in the finals of a Grand Slam. I’m only 19 years old, like you were saying.

“I mean, my ranking will go up again, and I’m just happy the way I’m playing and the way I’ve been progressing so far. I feel like, yeah, I’m playing good tennis.”

And that’s all that matters.

Federer Makes Another Open Final

Is there anything Roger Federer can’t do with a racket? They don’t call the men’s grand slam record holder The Maestro for nothing.

In advancing to another U.S. Open final where he’ll meet sixth seeded Juan Martin Del Potro for a chance to match Bill Tilden’s six consecutive titles, the world’s top player pulled out all the stops in an ultra competitive straight sets 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5 win over a game fourth seeded Serb Novak Djokovic at Ashe this evening.

Sure. Djokovic pushed him by playing a very good match. Unfortunately, his best wasn’t enough to even get a set as Federer eliminated him a third consecutive year.

If all the talk centered around Serena Williams’ meltdown last night, at least it should be much more positive following Federer’s latest bag of tricks helping him get through in three against the former 2007 runner-up who he defeated.

Not much separated the two but Federer was just better on the bigger points coming back from a break to take a first set tiebreaker, clinching it with an easy putaway at the net.

In the opening set, the two players exchanged breaks in the sixth and seventh games with Djokovic unable to cement it playing a poor game in which his forehand let down frustrating the 22 year-old Serbian. He also would miss a routine backhand to go mini-break down at 2-4 which allowed a shaky Federer off the hook.

“Um, well I thought conditions were tough. It was sunny in the beginning from the one end. Hopefully the same thing tomorrow, you know, sunny,” the 15-time slam winner indicated.

“Then it got really gusty, and I think we both struggled early on with our rhythm. I think towards the end of the sets, you know, I got in some good returns, and that allowed me then to actually go after my shots a bit more.”

The second set was better with each combatant going stroke for stroke as they protected their serves. Djokovic did well from the baseline drawing some errors. But Federer hung in there with his serve finally up to speed. At the outset, the 28 year-old from Switzerland couldn’t make a first serve but that changes as the match went on with him near 60 percent while winning 78 percent (49 of 63). Djokovic also did well serving and winning at 68 percent on firsts.

Serving first, Federer kept the pressure on Nole by holding turning it into a similar match as his quarter win over Robin Soderling. The five-time reigning champ fared well at net winning 17 of 20 points in the middle frame. For the match, he converted 81 percent (29 of 36) to Djokovic’s 45 (9 of 20).

When there was any slight opening, each stepped up to hold with Federer holding for 6-5. Facing the prospect of another breaker, the opportunistic champion finally applied enough pressure on Djokovic’s serve to break for the second set. After he valiantly saved two break points, Nole couldn’t avoid the third thanks to some clutch shots from Federer.

First, a forehand winner got it back to Deuce. Then, with Djokovic looking to have the key point won at net, somehow he ran down a volley stabbing a low slice backhand which a stunned Djokovic netted. With the crowd urging on the underdog, there was little they could do when during a rally, Federer found the angle cracking his signature forehand down the line for a two set lead letting out an emphatic scream.

In grand slam history, Federer had never blown a two set lead. To his credit, Djokovic didn’t give up fighting hard in an entertaining third set that saw some splendid rallies including a 23 stroke one that the taller Serb ended with a forehand smack on the line which he successfully won on a challenge. If he didn’t win on the scoreboard, he certainly had much better success going six for seven on challenges with the end result of that rally resulting in grins on both players.

There also was an amazing point where Djokovic played great defense at the net continuing to get back half a dozen volleys before Federer closed with a forehand pass which the charismatic Serb bowed in the opposite direction to get out of the way.

“I’m kind of player who likes the emotions and very temperamental on the court. You didn’t see a lot of racquet throwing, but it could have been a lot    a lot    today, especially because I knew that I was so close of winning all three sets, and then just a couple of points decided, you know,” Djokovic remarked.

“But if you ask me if I had fun today and enjoy it, yes, I did, absolutely.”

Indeed, a player who lost the fans last year following mistimed remarks after a quarter win over Andy Roddick won them back with how he conducted himself. Though he probably wished ‘tennis partner’ John McEnroe was back out on the court instead of Federer.

“I had the feeling that I was close all three sets, and it’s just that when I get close, when I am able to get to the breakpoints or I’m up a break, I just start making some unforced errors,” lamented Djokovic.

“And I don’t want to mention the word luck, but I didn’t have it today. That’s why I’m a little bit disappointed.”

Each player fought hard in another tight set with both saving break points including a pair Djokovic saved that would’ve given Federer 5-3 and a chance to serve for it.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t push it to a tiebreak with the Sampras-like Federer finally getting him again in the 12th game breaking him at love.

It was how he got to match point that was most impressive. Already up Love-30, Federer hustled down a Djokovic lob volley and pulled off the shot of the tournament going to a between the legs winner which sailed by a shocked Djokovic who could only smile for triple match point to a thunderous ovation.

The shot even amazed the winner who when asked about it by CBS’ Mary Joe Fernandez, referred to it as “the greatest shot I’ve ever hit,” to chuckles.

“He just gets on the court and he wants to play his best and win more. That’s what makes him even more dangerous. That’s why he plays even better,” Djokovic said while alluding to the record and Federer’s recent marriage to Mirka and the twins as settling him down.

“Look, I mean, I think I’ve always been pretty relaxed on the court, just because, you know, I don’t get too crazy anymore about great shots, bad shots, because I know I have so many more points and games and matches to play in my life,” Federer replied while also acknowledging that Mirka’s pregnancy and the twins healthy made it easier.

Fittingly, he won with another nice shot punctuating it with a return forehand winner and a raise of the arms before Djokovic congratulated him as they shared a laugh about what had occurred.

“I mean, that shot that he hit, you saw the reaction of the crowd. I mean, what can I explain,” Djokovic added.

But it was funny, on these shots, you know, you just say, Well done; too good. What can you do?”

“You know, that’s not the goal here. You have to play smart,” Federer said.

“That’s why I still feel the pressure, but it just doesn’t show. I definitely enjoy tennis so much that I think that’s what gives me that sense of calm really, I think.”

With a career grand slam and the record in his hip pocket, Federer now can take aim at matching Tilden when he takes on his sixth different opponent in Del Potro tomorrow afternoon at 4 PM on CBS.

“It will be absolutely amazing. It’s something I wasn’t able to do in Wimbledon, even though I was so close. So I hope things go well for me. I’m feeling great. I really hope I can do it.”