Melbourne Park Upgrades Announced

With so many new venues popping up over the South East Asia and the Pacific region, Melbourne Park is trying to keep up.

In 2016, the Australian Open’s contract is up and Melbourne is making sure another city is not going to snatch it’s beloved Australian Open away.

A plan to cover Margaret Court Arena, add 21 new courts, a new pedestrian plaza and upgrade Rod Laver Arena was announced, which will keep the OZ Open in Melbourne and keep its Grand Slam status until 2036.

“It’ll provide a major boost to the Australian Open as well as to our junior development programs,” said Tennis Australia’s CEO Steve Wood. “This facility will help us to continue to grow tennis in Australia with the new world-class training facilities.”

Work begins on Margaret Court Arena next year, which will allow the Australian Open to have three covered courts. There will be a pedestrian plaza and upgrades to Rod Laver Arena, which will be completed by 2015.

Then a new parking lot and an eastern plaza will be built to fully upgrade the 23 year-old facility.

“We want to ensure that the event continues through the development phase,” said Sport and Recreation Minister Hugh Delahunty, “but importantly we want to continue to make sure that this facility stays the home of not only the Australian Open but it continues to hold that status in the Grand Slam events throughout the world.”

Nadal Clinches Year End No. 1 For The Second Time

LONDON, ENGLAND – For the second time in three years Rafael Nadal will finish as the No. 1 player in the year-end South African Airways ATP Rankings.

The 24-year-old Spaniard is the ninth player in the history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings (since 1973) to finish as ATP World Tour Champion at least twice. He and rival Roger Federer are the only players since 2000 to clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking in the week after the US Open. Federer did it in 2004 and ’06.

Nadal said: “It has been an incredible season – one of my best ever, if not the best. Winning the US Open together with Roland Garros and Wimbledon, as well as the three back-to-back (ATP World Tour) Masters 1000s in Europe, was not easy.  I worked very hard to get back to the top and it feels really good to know I will end the year as No.1.”

Nadal will be officially crowned as the 2010 ATP World Tour Champion during a special ceremony at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, Nov. 21-28. Nadal and Federer are the first two players to qualify for the eight-man field. He is the third left-hander to finish No. 1 at least twice, joining Jimmy Connors (five times, 1974-78) and John McEnroe (four times, 1981-84).

On Monday, Nadal became the seventh man in history to achieve a career Grand Slam as he earned his first US Open title. He is also the first player to win three straight Grand Slam titles in the same year since Rod Laver won all four in 1969. Nadal is the youngest player in the Open Era to achieve a career Grand Slam. It was the Mallorcan native’s ninth career Grand Slam crown and he is the second-youngest player behind Bjorn Borg to win nine Slam titles.

Nadal also joins Ivan Lendl and Federer as the only players to have held, lost and regained the year-end No. 1 ranking in the 37-year history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings (since 1973). Lendl held the year-end No. 1 ranking from 1985-87 and finished No. 2 in 1988 before reclaiming No. 1 in 1989. Federer was No. 1 from 2004-07, went to No. 2 in ’08 and then returned to the top spot last year.

Nadal leads the ATP World Tour with six titles and a 59-7 match record in 2010. Since April he has won 43 of 46 matches, winning six of nine tournaments, including three consecutive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay court events (Monte-Carlo, Rome, Madrid) and his fifth Roland Garros title in six years. In July, he captured his second Wimbledon title in three years.

ATP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONS (since 1973) MULTIPLE ATP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONS
Year Player Player Number of titles.
2010 Rafael Nadal (Spain) Pete Sampras 6
2009 Roger Federer (Switzerland) Jimmy Conners 5
2008 Rafael Nadal (Spain) Roger Federer 5
2007 Roger Federer (Switzerland) Ivan Lendl 4
2006 Roger Federer (Switzerland) John McEnroe 4
2005 Roger Federer (Switzerland) Bjorn Borg 2
2004 Roger Federer (Switzerland) Stefan Edberg 2
2003 Andy Roddick (U.S.) Lleyton Hewitt 2
2002 Llyeton Hewitt (Australia) Rafael Nadal 2
2001 Lleyton Hewitt (Australia)
2000 Gustavo Kuerten (Brazil)
1999 Andre Agassi (U.S.)
1998 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1997 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1996 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1995 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1994 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1993 Pete Sampras (U.S.)
1992 Jim Courier (U.S.)
1991 Stefan Edberg (Sweden)
1990 Stefan Edberg (Sweden)
1989 Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1988 Mats Wilander (Sweden)
1987 Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1986 Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1985 Ivan Lendl (Czech Republic)
1984 John McEnroe (U.S.)
1983 John McEnroe (U.S.)
1982 John McEnroe (U.S.)
1981 John McEnroe (U.S.)
1980 Bjorn Borg (Sweden)
1979 Bjorn Borg (Sweden)
1978 Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1977 Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1976 Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1975 Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1974 Jimmy Connors (U.S.)
1973 Ilie Nastase (Romania)

About the ATP
The ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) is the governing body of the men’s professional tennis circuits – the ATP World Tour, the ATP Challenger Tour and the ATP Champions Tour. With 62 tournaments in 32 countries, the ATP World Tour showcases the finest male athletes competing in the world’s most exciting venues. From Australia and Europe to Africa; from North and South America to Asia, the stars of the ATP World Tour battle for prestigious titles at Grand Slams (non ATP members), ATP World Tour Masters 1000, ATP World Tour 500 and ATP World Tour 250 events. At the end of the season the world’s top 8 ranked singles players and top 8 doubles teams, based on their performance throughout the year, will qualify to compete in the season’s climax – the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Held at The O2 in London, the event determines the final South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings. For more information, please visit www.ATPWorldTour.com.

No Need To Roof Arthur Ashe

“A monstrosity,” one New York veteran columnist called Arthur Ashe Stadium in the press room during the one hour and 47 minute rain delay yesterday.

And of course there was chirping from the British media, because if their beloved Wimbledon can put a roof on their Centre Court, why not one in Flushing Meadows?

The fact is, even with the last three Open Finals pushed back a day, putting a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium is just not practical from any aspect. In fact, to cave into the roof demands will take valuable resources away from other USTA endeavors.

“It’s technically complex and financially challenging,” USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told Reuters the other day.  “At a cost of more than $150 million, do you spend that on a roof or continue to fund grassroots tennis programs in this country?”

Widmaier is probably being nice as some estimates put it over $250 million. From a fiscal standpoint, why would the USTA shell out for a roof just in case there is a storm coming through the second weekend of September? It just doesn’t make sense. And once a covering is installed, you know it won’t rain on the Open for 10 years.

Yet, other majors are going in that direction, so why not the Open? Well in Melbourne, having covered courts is part of the infrastructure of the city. Rod Laver Arena – the Australian Open’s main stage – acts as the city’s main arena for the rest of the year. It’s used for about 180 days outside of the two weeks in January. And Hisense Arena also doubles as a basketball arena for the rest of the season.

Any ancillary events in New York for a crowd the size of Arthur Ashe will go to Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, The Meadowlands, The Izod Centre, and soon the Barclay’s Centre so there will be no extra economic impact. Over the first 14 years of its existence, Arthur Ashe only was used once for a non tennis event in 2008, when the WNBA played a game there.

Some may argue Wimbledon built one with no extra use. But the fact is the weather in London during the beginning of July usually calls for rain. Heck they even put it into the plotline of the movie “Wimbledon” where a shower came through, which allowed the two protagonists to make up. If they made that movie today Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst would never have found love. Wouldn’t that have been a tragedy?

In Queens, however, the two weeks of the Open tend to be the driest of the year. Before 2008, the only other time the Open was pushed back until Monday in Flushing Meadows was in 1987. Before then you had to go back to 1974. Just because there was a lot of rain over the past few years doesn’t mean the USTA needs to shell out a quarter of a million dollars.

Let’s say they did. Arthur Ashe is built on landfill, as Flushing Meadows – Corona Park was once an ash dump (It was in the book the Great Gatzby as the Valley of the Ashes) and it foundation was once the foundation of the United States Pavilion of the 1964 World’s Fair, a building that’s half the size of the current structure. To put a roof on Ashe, they would have to redo the whole foundation and then put the covering on it. Or they would just have to blow up Ashe and start anew.

Unfortunately neither plan would be finished in a year, disrupting an Open or two in the future.

Another argument is to cover Armstrong Stadium, but then the USTA would have to expand that venue in order to accommodate, every ticket holder.

No, the USTA is stuck with Ashe, like it or not and putting a roof on the so-called “monstrosity” just doesn’t make sense. The Open would be better served using that money to expand the outer courts to accommodate more people. Frankly, those matches tend to get very cramped, very quickly.

But a roof? No need. The Open is better without one.

Nadal Completes Career Grand Slam With Win Over Djokovic

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Hurling himself into the final ferocious forehands of the night like a fighter unleashing uppercuts with incisive intentions, Rafael Nadal took his shot at tennis history on the rise and completed his Grand Slam coronation in stirring style tonight.

Nadal captured his first career US Open championship to complete the career Grand Slam with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Novak Djokovic in the Flushing Meadows final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It’s more than I dreamt,” said Nadal, whose fingertips, still tinged with adhesive tape, tickled the shiny silver title trophy that eluded him for so long. “I know, for me, it’s a dream have the career Grand Slam, but this is more (of a) dream (to) have the US Open.  Is some moments unbelievable feeling because I worked a lot all my life, in all difficult moments to be here, but I never imagined have the four Grand Slams.”

On championship point, Nadal coaxed a final forehand error from Djokovic, watched Djokovic’s shot sail wide, dropped his Babolat racquet and fell flat on his back behind the baseline while camera flashes flickered continiously like a force of fireflies descending on Flushing Meadows to light up the night. Then he rolled over on his stomach, his palms pressing down on the court as if embracing the largest Grand Slam stage in the world in a heart-felt hug.

Throughout his career, the US Open was the one major title eluding him, but on this night, in this event, Nadal conquered the hard court once deemed to fast for game and brought more than 22,000 adoring fans along for the ride.

When it was over the appreciative Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd stood and gave both men a rousing ovation.

At the age of 24 years, 101 days, Nadal took another giant stride toward tennis immortality in becoming just the seventh man in history to complete the career Grand Slam. Nadal is the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open in succession. He is the third youngest man to complete the career Grand Slam after Don Budge (22 years, 357 days) and Laver (24 years, 32 days).

It is the ninth career major championship for Nadal, who is the first Spanish man since Manuel Orantes in 1975 to win the US Open. He spent some of the early years of his career as the second-seeded shadow to 16-time Grand Slam king Roger Federer. But now Nadal, five years Federer’s junior and owning a 14-7 career edge over the Swiss stylist in their head-to-head series, can stake a claim as one of the greatest players of all time. Should he he continue his winning pace, and there’s no one on the horizon who appears capable of slowing Nadal’s Roland Garros reign, can the muscular Mallorcan surpass Federer as the mythical Greatest Of All Time?

“Definitely,” Djokovic said without hesitation tonight. “He has the capabilities already now to become the best player ever.  I think he’s playing the best tennis that I ever seen him play on hardcourts.  He has improved his serve drastically.  The speed, the accuracy, and of course his baseline is as good as ever. So he’s a very complete player.”

Solidifying his status as the best big-match player in the sport, Nadal is 6-0 in his last six Grand Slam finals.

Racing so far behind the baseline he could have almost tapped the blue back wall with his racquet, Nadal ripped running backhand passes that left Djokovic shaking his head in disbelief at times.

The match featured six rallies of 20 more strokes and those punishing exchanges took a toll on Djokovic, whose depleted legs, drained from the five-set fight with five-time champion Roger Federer in the semifinals, looked like licorice by the early stages of the fourth set.

A rhythm player who actually seems to grow stronger as the match goes longer, Nadal was seemingly swinging with even more force as he saw the finish line in the fourth set.

A titanic topspin forehand down the line gave Nadal a double break point in the third game of the fourth set. Djokovic retaliated with his own ripping forehand down the line to save the first break point, but that shot was effectively the Belgrade baseliner’s last stand. A Djokovic forehand tripped on the tope of the tape and landed long as Nadal broke for 2-1.

Two games later, Nadal was at it again, pummeling punishing shots that hounded Djokovic like a pack of pit bulls unleashed on a trespasser. When Djokovic, who fought so hard for so long, flattened a forehand into the net, he hung his head falling into a 1-4 hole, wearing the weary resignation of a man well aware the dream was evaporating in the night air.

Djokovic was serving at 4-all, 30-all in the second set when the skies opened up and rain began pouring down. Tournament referee Brian Earley, clutching his ever-present walkie talkie came out quickly and acted decisively. “We’re going in. Take them in,” Earley told the security team, which escorted Nadal and Djokovic back into the locker room.

After a one hour, 57-minute rain delay, the players returned to the court at about 7:48 and Djokovic struck the serve that officially resumed play at 7:59.

Serving at 5-6, Nadal bumped a drop volley into net to fall to 30-all. Djokovic drilled a backhand down the line to draw an error and earn break point.

Reading the serve down the T, Djokovic moved right to cut off the angle and drove a forehand return down the middle that flirted with the front of the baseline. Forced to respond off his back foot, Nadal could only lift an off-balance forehand into the net as Djokovic broke to seze the second set.

Winding up for a windmill fist-pump, the veins bulging in Djokovic’s neck were visible from courtside as he trotted to his court-side seat deadlocked at one set apiece.

Sprinting seven feet behind the baseline, back in the territory typically occupied by ball kids, Nadal somehow angled a backhand pass crosscourt to earn triple break point at 0-40 in the third game of the third set. Djokovic erased the first with an ace and saved the second when Nadal netted a backhand. On the third break point, Djokovic slice a serve wide, drew the short ball he desired, but lifted a crosscourt forehand wide as Nadal broke for 2-1. Nadal quickly consolidated for 3-1.

Cranking up the pressure like as if tightening a tennis vise, Nadal earned five break points in the seventh game of the fourth set. Serving under immense pressure, Djokovic played with more aggression on the break points and time after time denied Nadal a second break. Attacking net, Djokovic saved a fifth break point when Nadal mis-fired on a backhand pass. A gam that featured 16 points and spanned more than 11 minutes finally ended when Nadal knocked a backhand into net.

Djokovic dug out a hard-fought hold for 3-4, but his legs and lungs paid a steep price.

Serving for the set at 5-4, Nadal went toe-to-toe with Djokovic in a demanding rally that spanned more than 20 shots. It ended with Djokovic clocking a crosscourt forehand winner. Another fierce forehand down the line drew Djokovic to 15-30.

A determined Djokovic ripped a forehand crosscourt drawing a Nadal backhand beyond the baseline as Djokovic broke at love for a 3-1 second-set lead screaming “Come on!” as his parents jumped out of their seats in support.

Nadal had been broken in just two of 91 games in the tournament, but Djokovic broke him twice in the first seven service games of the final.

Whipping his backhand down the line to set up his inside-out forehand, Djokovic hammered an inside-out forehand to hold at love for 4-1. The Serbian strung together 11 consecutive points and appeared to have the second set under control.

Nadal had other ideas.

The USTA announced total attendance for the US Open was 712,976 total attendance.

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Djokovic Wins Dogfight With Federer To Get To Finals

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Arthur Ashe Stadium was rocking in rumbling roars in anticipation of the first Roger vs. Rafa US Open final as Roger Federer stood one point away from the creating the most electrifying encounter in recent US Open history. Firing his forehand with ambition, Novak Djokovic stood up to the five-time champion and more than 20,000 screaming fans in pulling the plug on the Big Apple buzz with audacious shotmaking.

In a dramatic duel that saw tension escalate with each brilliant baseline exchange, Djokovic fought off two match points with successive scorching forehand winners in the 11th game of the final set then withstood a break point in the 12th game to subdue five-time champion Federer, 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 and advance to his first US Open final.

When Federer’s final forehand sailed wide, Djokovic stood wide-eyed on the court as if frozen in utter disbelief of completing his comeback and snapping Federer’s streak of six straight US Open finals. Thrusting his arms in triumph, Djokovic crossed himself, pressed his palms together as if in prayer then knelt down and kissed the court.

“It’s really hard to describe the feeling I have right now; 10 minutes ago I was a point from losing this match and now I managed to come back,” said Djokovic. “It’s one of those matches you will always remember in your career. I’m just so happy to be in the final.”

It is Djokovic’s second US Open final in the past four years, but he won’t have much time to celebrate. The 2007 runner-up will face World No. 1 Nadal in Sunday’s 4 p.m. final.

The top-seeded Spaniard stormed into his first Flushing Meadows final, overwhelming 12th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 in a two hour, 13-minute semifinal that started the day of play on Ashe Stadium.

Continuing his quest to complete the career Grand Slam and become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open in succession, Nadal may well be reveling in the fact he made quick work of Youzhny while Djokovic, who has been dogged by breathing issues, survived a physically-demanding five-setter with Federer.

“Having three sets match and two hours, or a little bit more, of the match always is great, no?  I gonna be in perfect conditions tomorrow, so that’s very positive,” Nadal said.  “We will see what happen.”

Given the fact Nadal has not surrendered a set so far, has only dropped serve twice in this tournament, owns a 14-7 career edge over Djokovic and Djokovic is coming off a a grueling semifinal with little turnaround time you might think the final could be as closely contested as an arm-wrestling match between the Incredible Hulk and Olivier Rochus.

The final is not a foregone conclusion though. Djokovic has won seven of 10 hard-court meetings with Nadal, including three in a row without dropping a set. Nadal’s last hard-court win over Djokovic was a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 triumph in the semifinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It might sound borderline blasphemous to even suggest it, but could Djokovic, whose two-handed backhand is a more effective hard-court shot than Federer’s one-handed backhand, actually be better equipped to challenge Nadal on the US Open Deco Turf than 16-time Grand Slam champion Federer?

“When he’s playing well, probably (he) is the player who can play at high level for moments, no?  Because he can have winners from every part of the court.  He serve, when he’s serving well, help him a lot, because he can have very good serves,” Nadal said of Djokovic. “He’s a very difficult opponent for me, especially I had a lot of loses against him in this kind of surface.  I have victories, too, but I have loses.”

Djokovic’s recent US Open have been littered with a littany of loss all at the hands of Federer.

Down 15-30, Federer pulled out the slice forehand for the first time all day and moved forward behind that shot, slicing a sharp-angled backhand crosscourt to draw even. A scrambling Djokovic dug out a difficult running forehand to elicit the error and it was deuce. Two points later, Federer fired his 10th ace to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth set.

Deadlocked at deuce at 3-all, Djokovic was in control of the point and hit a backhand that landed on the line. The shot was incorrectly called out, chair umpire Enric Moline overruled, the point was replayed and Federer hit a service winner. On the second deuce, Federer fied a backhand down the line to open the court followed by an inside-out forehand winner for ad.  Djokovic was beyond ball boy territory, nine feet off the court when he made a spectaculaar get. Federer netted an open-court forehand to face another deuce.

After a fourth deuce, Federer held when Djokovic netted a return for 4-3.

In the eighth game, Federer was racing off the doubles alley aiming for an open area down the line. If he connected on the shot it would have been a sure winner and given Federer double-break point, but he flattened a backhand into the net near the Mercedes symbol and Djokovic dug out a difficult hold for 4-all.

More than two hours into the match, Djokovic, a man whose past questionable conditioning, breathing issues and willingness to tap out in major matches has haunted him, showed resilience in his spirt and spring in his step.

Storming the net, Djokovic deflected a series of reflex volleys then leaped to snap off an overhead winner for break point. He broke for 2-1 and quickly consolidated for 3-1.

A distracted Federer sprayed a backhand long as Djokovic earned double break point at 15-40. Federer fought off the first two break points, but did not move his feet and laced a backhand into the net to hand Djokovic a third break point. Cutting quickly to his right, Djokovic drilled a forehand pass down the line that ricocheted off Federer’s Wilson racquet and he trotted to the side line raising a clenched fist toward his parents, who leaped out of their seats in support, holding a 4-1 fourth-set lead.

Despite serving just 48% in the fourth set, Djokovic permitted only five points on serve to seize the set in 31 minutes.

The fight for the final would go the distance.

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Rafa Rides Right To The Finals

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The ball sped off the strings so fast for a moment it appeared the force of the swing could send a vibration dampener spinning around the string bed like a particularly lively super ball bounding around a roulette wheel. Rafael Nadal watched his final serve land safely and exploded into the air like a man propelled from his own personal launching pad. He landed in his first career US Open final after wrapping up a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Mikhail Youzhny in today’s semifinal.

The semifinal had served as a stop sign for Nadal in each of the past two years — he fell to Andy Murray in a rain-interrupted 2008 semifinal and was blown off the court by big-hitting Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in last September’s semis — but the top-seeded Spaniard played with authoritative ambition in surging to his 20th consecutive Grand Slam victory today.

“For me, it is a dream I am going to play the final here in the biggest center court of the world,” Nadal said. “I try my best so after a lot of work so I am very happy for that.”

Playing progressively stronger with each passing round, Nadal has kicked his game into a higher gear like a sprinter downshifting into speedier strides with the tape in sight as he is now one win removed from becoming the seventh man in history to complete the career Grand Slam.

Continuing his quest to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open in succession, Nadal has not surrendered a set in six tournament victories and now the world watches and waits for a potential electrifying encounter in tomorrow’s final.

If five-time champion Roger Federer defeats Novak Djokovic for the fourth consecutive time at the Open in today’s second semifinal then the archrivals will face off in their first Flushing Meadows final. It would be their 18th meeting in a championship match, second to Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe, who met in 20 finals.

Nadal and Federer have split the spoils at the Grand Slam table in combining to claim 21 of the last 24 major championships.

It would be a historic match-up marking the first time in history two men squared off in all four Grand Slam tournament finals. A Federer-Nadal final would be their eighth Grand Slam title match, setting the record for most major meetings (they currently share the record of seven major final face-offs with Bill Tilden and William Johnston, who met in seven straight US Championships from 1919-1925.).

Seeking to become the first Russian man to reach a major final since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open and the second Russian finalist in Flushing Meadow after Safin, who stunned Pete Sampras to capture the title a decade ago, Youzhny need to play big and bold, but instead looked tired and timid for long stretches of the match.

Youzhny punctuated a few of his errant shots by tapping his adidas with the rim of racquet as if trying to shake some sense into his shot selection through flogging his feet.

“Maybe he was a little bit more tired than me; he played a longer match during the week,” Nadal said.

Depleted by his 3-6, 7-6(7-), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over 25th-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka that spanned exactly four hours, a spent Youzhny looked like a man fully aware he had little left in his inner reservoir. The clarity Youzhny showed in his shot selection against Wawrinka was missing at times today. Nadal’s fast feet and ability to track down balls that elude most mortals caused Youzhny to think before he struck at times and he conceded that the mind-body connection was a bit out of sync.

“I cannot say I’m really tired, but yeah, (I) was not fast enough today,” Youzhny said. “My decision was not really fast. I mean, I (was) moving well, but my head was one step back of my hand and my legs. So that’s why I was thinking too long where I have to play. That’s why some mistakes and that’s why made the score like this one.”

Nadal has a habit of infiltrating opponent’s heads with his anticipation, unerring consistency and court coverage that seems to squeeze the court to the size of a parking space.

“He’s consistent. He play really high level all year,” Youzhny said of Nadal. “Not everybody can play like this. Some players play really well maybe three tournaments and four, five tournaments play not so well. Even top players. But Federer and Nadal I think (are) more consistent players. His level is a little bit higher than all other players.”

Read more of Rich Pagliaro at TennisNow.com.

Nadal KOs F-Lo In Three

Rafael Nadal has changed his grip and asserted a strong hold on this US Open field. Continuing to wreak devastation on the men’s draw, Nadal flogged Feliciano Lopez, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, to storm into his third consecutive US Open quarterfinal. The top seed has not surrendered serve or dropped a set and played with the ferocity of a man who may well run the table in New York, complete the career Grand Slam and become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open championships simultaneously.

Gone are the questions about Nadal’s two-handed backhand, which betrayed him in Cincinnati. Gone are the questions about his ability to tame the fast Flushing Meadows hard courts given the fact he has not won a hard-court title since the 2009 Indian Wells and gone is the uncertainty over Nadal’s readiness to reach his first US Open final.

Perhaps the only person in Arthur Ashe Stadium who wasn’t thoroughly impressed with Nadal’s performance tonight was the top-seeded Spaniard himself.

Always the perfectionist, Nadal says he’s playing well, but can get better.

“No, I think I am playing well, but I (am) not playing yet at my highest level,” Nadal told Tennis Now in his 1:30 a.m. press conference. “But I am playing well. To be in the quarterfinals of the quarterfinals of the US Open without losing a set and without losing serve, two things must work really well: the concentration and the serve. Without those two things, you gonna lose for sure serves, no?”

Nadal will take on former Davis Cup teammate Fernando Verdasco in the first all-Spanish US Open quarterfinal in Open Era history.

The eighth-seeded Verdasco fought back from a two-set deficit and a 1-4 hole in the fifth-set tiebreaker, winning six straight points to score a stirring victory over David Ferrer.

Running down a Ferrer 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 the 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.”

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.”

Richard Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

US Open Mens Preview

(August 28, 2010) In the shadow of Arthur Ashe Stadium, paradise came to the parking lot of the US Open. Clad in a white warm-up, Roger Federer popped out of the back seat of a Mercedes and walked to the red brick building to pick up his US Open player credential at about 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon. Moments later, Rafael Nadal, wearing a white t-shirt and shorts, Babolat racquet in hand, walked by to greet Federer in meeting of two men who have split the spoils in combining to win 20 of the last 22 Grand Slam titles.

World No. 1 Nadal and the second-ranked Federer met briefly in the parking lot drizzle, will their paths cross again in what could be a day of dazzle in the US Open final?

You might think after transforming Grand Slam center courts into their own personal stomping grounds for several years, either man might grow slightly complacent, but both Nadal and Federer figure to be highly motivated to reign in New York.

The top-seeded Nadal, a semifinal casualty in each of the last two years, may be looking at his best shot to capture his first career US Open championship, complete the career Grand Slam and solidify his status as one of the greatest players of all time by becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold the Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open crowns simultaneously.

A resurgent Federer, who snapped a six-month title drought in defending his Cincinnati title on Sunday, is aiming for his seventh straight US Open final as he attempts to reclaim the crown he lost to Juan Martin del Potro in five sets last September. Should Federer win the Open he could challenge Nadal for the year-end No. 1 ranking and move closer to his stated goal of winning 20 career majors and surpassing Pete Sampras’ record fo 286 weeks at No. 1.

Two guys who have lapped the Grand Slam field could be racing toward history and each other in two weeks’ time.

Del Potro, who beat Nadal and Federer in succession to win his first major, is out of the Open with a wrist injury, 2007 finalist Novak Djokovic is mired in malaise and fourth-seeded Andy Murray appears to be the only man capable of derailing the first Rafa-Roger US Open final.

The US Open draw was conducted today and while the women’s draw is more wide open that at anytime in recent memory, the men’s draw revolves around three men — Nadal, Federer and Murray — who serve as the tennis equivalent of Manhattan gridlock for aspiring upwardly mobile members of the men’s draw:  paralyzing presence to be avoided at all costs.

Here’s a look at each quarter of the draw.

First Quarter

Nadal opens against Teymuraz Gabashvili and while this year’s Open is hardly a case of now or never for the 24-year-old Mallorcan, former US Open champion John McEnroe says this may well be the best shot the muscular Mallorcan ever has of mastering the Flushing Meadows major.

“I think this is the best chance perhaps he will ever have to win the Open and I don’t think we should forget the fact he has improved his efforts pretty much every year the last two years,” McEnroe said in a conference call with the media today. “Despite having issues physically — the stomach last year and the knees a couple of years ago — he’s gotten to a couple of semis. I think he’s poised. He’s had the time off, he says he’s 100 percent healthy, the body is there and he is much tougher to beat in a best of five set match.”

The biggest issue for Nadal may be beneath his feet. Can he tame the game’s fastest Grand Slam tennis that has left him looking bewildered on some occasions and overwhelmed on others in his US Open losses? Nadal is a more complete player now than he was when he fell to Murray in a four-set US Open semifinal loss played out over two days two years ago.

The best big-match player in the game looked like a solid favorite to finally break through in Flushing Meadows when he rolled Tomas Berdych in straight sets to win his eighth career major at Wimbledon last month. But in losses to Murray in the Toronto semifinals and Marcos Baghdatis in last week’s Cincinnati quarterfinals, Nadal looks more like the guy who endured an 11-month title drought than he does the Flushing Meadows favorite.

Things happen quickly in tennis. Remember the euphoria surrounding Murray’s run to the Melbourne final when many were touting him as the next No. 1 after he bounced defending champion Nadal out of the tournament? The fact is Nadal has not won a hard-court title since the 2009 Indian Wells and looked as capable of adjusting to quick Cincinnati court conditions as a commuter trying to catch up to speeding cab. Julien Benneteau does not serve as big as Boris Becker, but Nadal could not consistently hit deep returns in that match, resorted to chipping his backhand and basically bluffed his way through the second set, saving a match point playing defense and waiting for the Frenchman to crack.

In practice sessions this week, Nadal’s two-handed backhand return has not been consistently sharp, but if he can regain the range on that shot he should get through the top quarter of the draw that features some dangerous players in the form of 10th-seeded David Ferrer, who beat Nadal in the fourth round of the 2007 US Open, 24th-seeded Ernests Gulbis, a talented, but extremely volatile Latvian who pushed Nadal to a 6-4 third set in the Rome semis on clay in May, and the dangerous David Nalbandian, who has thrashed Nadal on hard courts in the past, but has never beaten him in a best-of-five set match.

Coming off an opening-round exit last year, Gulbis has the game to push through to the quarters, but can degenerate into morose moods and periods of flaky play on court.

Quarterfinal Conclusion: (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (24) Ernests Gulbis or (31) David Nalbandian

Second Quarter

Murray has arguably the smoothest path to the semifinals of the top three contenders. The two-time Grand Slam finalist opens against Lukas Lacko with 25th-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka looming as his first potential seeded opponent. Wawrinka’s game is based on a brilliant one-handed backhand, he can serve big and has become a more disciplined match player working with coach Peter Lundgren, who formerly coached Federer and guided Marat Safin to the Australian Open title. But Wawrinka hasn’t been able to sustain himself in running rallies with Murray, a much smoother mover around the court. Murray destroyed the Swiss the last time they met in New York and should dispatch him again should they meet here.

Sam Querrey, who opens against American wild card Bradley Klahn, should reach a third-round match with 14th-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who can hammer the ball as big as just about any Spaniard on Tour. If Querrey can get past Almagro he could test Murray in what would be a rematch of the Los Angeles final. Querrey fought off a match point to beat Murray in LA, but the best-of-five set format favors the Scot, who is fitter, faster and a better player at this point. If Querrey is landing his first serve, can shorten up the points with his forehand and get the New York City crowd into the match he has a shot should that match come off.

“I think Andy is the better player right now,” McEnroe said. “Sam showed a lot of heart and is is getting into better condition. People are looking carefully at Sam. In a best of five, Andy should be a strong favorite, no question about that. Andy should have beaten Sam in LA, he entered at the last minute, but I wouldn’t discount Sam particularly if he was rested for that match. Certainly, he’s fitter than he’s ever been and is a dangerous player. Things have set up for Andy about as good as he could have hoped for.”

Wimbledon finalist Berdych opens with a potentially tricky opponent in French left-hander Michael Llodra. American John Isner, who upset Andy Roddick last year, is still in the draw, but if he does play, Isner figures to be hampered by the right ankle injury he sustained in Cincinnati. If Isner was healthy, he could test Berdych in the fourth round, but given the tenuous condition of his ankle, Berdych should get through to the quarters to face Murray.

Berdych swept Murray in straight sets in the Roland Garros round of 16. And you could look at the fact another tall, lanky, big hitter, Marin Cilic, bounced Murray out of the Open last year as a sign Berdych could overwhelm Murray, who is prone to periods of passive play at times, this year. But Murray has had a consistently solid Grand Slam season in reaching the Australian Open final and the Wimbledon semifinals, knows he has a real opportunity to return to the semifinals and is coming off his second straight Rogers Cup title.

Quarterfinal Conclusion: (4) Andy Murray vs. (7) Tomas Berdych

Third Quarter

This is the most wide open of the four quarters of the field with Djokovic the highest seed in this section, but based on the fact the Serbian showman has shown little confidence and played with a sense of resignation in losing to Andy Roddick in Cincinnati last week, it’s difficult to imagine Djokovic returning to the semifinals unless he pulls out some electrifying wins along the way to ignite some intensity in what has been a timid game recently.

Djokovic takes on Davis Cup teammate and good friend Viktor Troicki in the first round. The four players to watch in this section are sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, a former US Open finalist and ATP World Tour Final champion, Roddick, Mardy Fish and Marcos Baghdatis.

Since reaching back-to-back Masters finals at Indian Wells and Miami where he played some of the best tennis of his career, Roddick has slumped though he did reach the Cincinnati semifinals and failed to serve out the match in suffering a brutal loss to Fish. Roddick could be challenged in the second round against Olivier Rochus or Janko Tipsarevic, but should get to a fourth-round meeting with Davydenko, a player he has owned throughout his career, winning five of their six meetings. If Roddick can play more assertive tennis, his hit backhand up the line to open up the inside-out forehand even more, and use the speed of the court to pressure opponents, he has a solid shot to reach the quarters.

“His tennis earlier on in the year — when he got to the finals at Palm Springs and then he won at Key Biscayne — his tennis was certainly on a different level. He since seems to have lost that touch a little bit and maybe it’s just a little loss of confidence from losing a few matches — I think Wimbledon and his loss at Wimbledon set him back a little bit,” Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors, Roddick’s former coach, said. “I don’t think he ever expected to lose out on Court 2 to Lu. He is strong enough mentally and physically to be able to wipe that aside and to start playing the kind of tennis necessary to win a US Open now. He struggled during the summer. But certainly, he is strong enough and a good enough player to overcome that, especially with the excitement of the US Open and being the only American right now in the top ten. The crowd should give him a boost and help him lift his game to another level. I would look for him to go into the US Open with the right attitude and to play the kind of tennis to create a lot of excitement.”

The 19th-seeded Fish has never looked better, thanks to a nutrional plan that has seen him shed 30 pounds, and has never played better either. Fish sat out the Open last year and could take a quantum leap in the rankings toward the top 10 with a strong run in New York. Two years ago, Fish advanced to the quarters falling to Nadal and is a significantly improved player now. The quarterfinals are within reach, but he’ll likely have to beat Baghdatis, who beat Nadal in Cincinnati, and Djokovic back to back to make it. Fish is a combined 0-7 lifetime vs. those two players, but has never been in better form than he is right now. This could be a career-defining tournament for Fish.

Fish and Baghdatis opened the season playing a tremendous semifinal in Sydney with Baghdatis prevailing, 6-4, 6-7(7), 7-6(5) to raise his record to 3-0 vs. Fish.

“I think Mardy has a good chance,” Connors said. “Mardy Fish if he can handle the three out of five sets and over a two-week period, I think he also has a good chance as he has certainly been playing that kind of tennis over the course of the summer to put him in as a contender.”

Quarterfinal Conclusion: (9) Andy Roddick vs. (16) Marcos Baghdatis or (19) Mardy Fish

Fourth Quarter

Three former World No. 1 Grand Slam champions, Federer, No. 32 seed Lleyton Hewitt and No. 22 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero occupy three of the final eight lines of the draw.

Federer faces Brian Dabul in the first round and should cruise to a possible third-round meeting with Hewitt.

Given the fact Federer has lost just one match in the past six years in New York, he’s a strong favorite to advance to a quarterfinal against fifth-seeded Robin Soderling, who knocked the defending Roland Garros champion out of Paris at the same stage earlier this year.

Can Soderling, who takes mammoth cuts off both the forehand and backhand wings, time the ball effectively enough to beat Federer again here? Certainly, Soderling has enough offensive firepower to bea almost anyone when he’s on, but Federer is a much better defensive player and transition from defense to offense more effectively.

The surface is better suited to Federer’s style. Look for Federer to return to the semifinals.

Quarterfinal Conclusion: (2) Roger Federer vs. (5) Robin Soderling

Read more from Richard Pagliaro at Tennis Now, where this story originally was posted.

Federer Wins Australian Open Title with New BLX Racket

[CHICAGO] – New decade, new racket, new record. Playing with his new Wilson Six.One Tour BLX tennis racket, Roger Federer proved once again why he is the greatest tennis player of all time. Federer’s 2010 Australian Open win marks his 16th Grand Slam title, surpassing his own all-time record of 15 major titles.

Federer’s continued success is due in part to Wilson’s ever evolving technology and BLX is no exception. Federer switched to his new Six.One Tour BLX racket at the beginning of 2010. “Wilson continues to provide rackets with the most cutting edge technology and this racket really gives me the extra feel I look for,” Federer said after claiming the title. “My new BLX racket provides me with the extra edge I needed to succeed.”

The #1 player in the world stayed strong throughout the entire match in Rod Laver Arena winning 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11). Federer broke Murray’s serve twice in the opening set and once in the second. Federer rallied from 5-2 down in the third, breaking Murray when he served in attempt to push the match into a fourth set.

Federer solidified his #1 ranking for a 268th week and tied Jimmy Connors in third place on the all-time list. Since 2004, he has reached at least the semi-finals of every Grand Slam. He continued his Grand Slam streak with a 23rd consecutive semi-final appearance.

“It’s an incredible feeling to continue this streak and my success at Grand Slams,” Federer said. “This 16th title means the world to me and I hope to keep this streak alive.”

Once again, Federer has raised the bar in the game of tennis and provide another benchmark for his competitors to work harder, play better and achieve more. He is still No.1 in the world and even with competition snapping at heels everyday, the legacy continues.

Wilson Racquet Sports is a division of Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sports equipment and owned by Amer Sports. Wilson designs, manufactures and distributes sporting goods throughout the world and focuses on making technologically advanced products which help players of all levels perform better. Wilson’s core sport categories include: Football, Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, Soccer, Youth Sports, Uniforms/Apparel, Golf, Footwear and Racquet Sports (Tennis, Racquetball, Squash, Badminton and Platform Tennis). For more information, visit www.wilson.com.

A Five-Set Classic Goes To Del Potro

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – There’s a new U.S. Open men’s champion. His name is Juan Martin Del Potro, who overcame a one set deficit against the game’s best, coming back to dethrone five-time winner Roger Federer 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 before an electrified Ashe Stadium in Flushing.

The first Argentine to win the Open since Guillermo Vilas (1977), who was in attendance for an epic four-plus hour match was at a loss for words after winning his first ever grand slam title.

“When I would have a dream, it was to win the U.S. Open, and the other one is to be like Roger. One is done,” an emotional del Potro told a cheering crowd during a nice on-court ceremony in which he also asked CBS’ Dick Enberg if he could speak in Spanish for all his special fans back home.

“Well, because my parents want to come watch the final and say, no, be there. Of course they are part of this moment. They believe in me a lot like my coaches. It’s a special moment for me, for my parents and my friends. This trophy is for these, too.”

The victory was extra special for the lanky 6-6 man who became the tallest player ever to win a major. Thanks to a huge game featuring a lethal forehand that did plenty of damage producing nearly 40 of his match best 57 winners, he finally got the better of his well accomplished opponent who was aiming for more history- trying to become the first player to win six consecutive Opens since Bill Tilden and also win three slams in a row in the same season since Rod Laver (1969).

All that stood in the way was Del Potro of the all-time slam champion adding more impressive accomplishments to his Hall of Fame career. From the outset, it looked like the world’s best was intent on making quick work of an opponent who nearly got him in a French Open semifinal before running out of gas in five sets.

“I got off to a pretty good start, and had things under control as well in the second set. I think that one cost me the match eventually. But I had many chances before that to make the difference,” Federer assessed.

“So it was tough luck today, but I you thought Juan Martin played great. I thought he hung in there and gave himself chances, and in the end was the better man.”

Indeed, a sharp Federer came out smoking converting on his fifth break opportunity for an early 2-0 lead when he ran down a backhand from one side, steering Del Potro wide for a half volley before going full steam for an amazing running forehand cross which left the Argentine in disbelief.

A timid Del Potro struggled to get first serves in but finally got on the board for 1-3. Still, it was Federer who was more aggressive pinning the soon to be 21 year-old behind the baseline with precision hitting that also allowed him to finish points off at net where he had large success going 10 for 11 in the opening set.

“Yes, the beginning of the match I was so nervous, I can’t sleep last night. I don’t take a breakfast today. That’s part of the final, you know,” del Potro said.

“But Roger start very good. I start little down. I miss    I was bad with my serve, and that’s important weapon of my game. When I broke his serve for first time, I start to believe in my game. To change.”

Despite the slow start, Del Potro did exactly what he promised a day before after defeating Rafael Nadal by giving maximum effort every point. That kind of desire would be necessary if he was going to have a shot. In the sixth game, he fought off a break point then delivering a pair of aces to hold for 2-4. In the next game, he finally put pressure on Federer taking the first two points but the more experienced 28 year-0ld Swiss Maestro used a couple of big forehands to get out of the jam for 5-2.

It looked like Federer would finish off the set with a double break but again the feisty Del Potro saved three set points capturing the final five, holding with an ace to stay alive.

However, that didn’t deter Federer who still served it out with an ace out wide to take the set. History was on his side with the last 16 champions winning the first.

Things continued to look good for the reigning five-time champ who was handed the opening game of the second set due to four Del Potro miscues including two double faults.

Following a hold, Del Potro finally had his first looks at breaking Federer but the 15-time slam winner didn’t oblige dodging all three for 3-1. Somehow, he was still in comfortable position despite struggling on his serve like never before. For some reason, Federer missed a lot of first serves and was in the low 40’s yet hadn’t been broken, even throwing in double faults serving an uncharacteristic 11 to his younger foe’s six. Del Potro couldn’t make him pay but that eventually changed.

Del Potro nearly went down double break but held to hang around for 2-3. With his serve finally in gear, he began steadying from the baseline with his monster forehand and underrated backhand starting to turn the tide. Suddenly, he was getting looks at Roger’s serve but couldn’t cash in falling behind 3-5.

Following a love hold, things looked pretty dicey when Federer easily took the first two points serving for the second set. That’s when a desperate Del Potro stepped it up winning the next four points with some great hustle and unbelievable shots to get back even five all.

It began with an innocent backhand lob which a running Federer couldn’t save this time looking like he might try another tweener like the one versus Novak Djokovic that setup match point yesterday. Instead, his desperating lob floated long helped by Del Potro.

After he took the next point, the turning point came when a gliding Del Potro ripped a forehand down the line which initially was ruled out. He challenged and replays showed that it just caught the edge upsetting a stunned Federer who pointed to the mark thinking, ‘No way.’

Suddenly with break point and the crowd on his side, Del Potro rode the momentum with another great forehand pass pumping his fist to capitalize.

The set would need a tiebreaker. Never before had Federer dropped one in four previous tries in the final. But this time, Del Potro was a little better using a Federer forehand mishit for the only mini-break he’d need to go up 4-3. He then backed it up with forehand and backhand winners giving him three set points.

After Federer saved the first two on his serve, an inside out forehand gave a pumped up Del Potro the set.

“I thought I had him under control for the first two sets. I should never have lost so many chances. It was just a pity. I think if I win the second set, I’m in a great position to come through. Unfortunately, I didn’t win that and that was it,” Federer accurately pointed out.

With it all even, Del Potro continued to grow in confidence going for his shots willing to trade from the baseline. His forehand continued to get to Federer who was still having serving issues. Finally, the Argentine moved ahead 4-3 in the third set thanks to a huge forehand drawing a Federer miss which was followed by an emphatic yell from the underdog.

But as usually is the case, Federer broke right back flustering Del Potro who looked pretty mad at himself. Yet he stayed strong producing a ridiculous 110 mph forehand winner for another break chance but Federer dug out for 5-4.

The unpredictable set concluded with Del Potro having a rough 10th game with an unlucky net cord giving Federer Love-30. Following taking the next point, he fell apart with back-to-back doubles donating the set to Federer who by that point was antsy due to the chair umpire allowing a late challenge by Del Potro the previous game.

In the set, Federer held a 13-4 edge in winners while converting two of four break points to Del Potro’s one for three. He also finished off five of seven at the net where he went 66 percent (31 of 47) overall.

“Well, when I won the second set, I think if I continuing playing same way, maybe I have chance to win. But after, when I lost the third set, going to break up, I start to think bad things, you know,” del Potro analyzed while admitting to being very nervous when he threw in the doubles to fall behind adding:

“Yeah, but that moment I start to think the final, playing with Roger, the best player of the history, nothing to lose. And be two sets to one down, but I think, okay, you never lose until the last point, so keep fighting. The crowd help me, and they saw my fight in every point.

So I think that’s help me.”

Federer was just a set from more history but could Del Potro rebound? He proved to have plenty of ammunition left cracking another forehand winner to squeeze out of trouble for two all. The forehand barrage continued breaking Federer at love for 3-2.

“Big focus every time and good feeling with my forehand I think was the key of the match,” explained del Potro who continued using his biggest weapon to rain on the Federer Express.

One of the match’s highlights included a 21-stroke rally that a hustling Del Potro ended with a running forehand even high-fiving fans. But just when things seemed alright, Federer cameback with a service hold and then broke back for four all. He then held for his third straight game getting within a game of the trophy.

By this point, one thing was noticeable. Del Potro alternated his strategy opting not to go big on the serve instead spinning it in for a higher percentage which Federer surprisingly didn’t adjust on.

It had worked all set but a tight Del Potro ran into deep trouble losing two of the first three points in the critical 10th game to stay in the match. Only a couple of points from losing, he stepped it up big time taking the final three including a 131 mph ace along with a lethal winner for five all. That kind of guts allowed him to believe he could beat a player for the first time in seven tries.

“It was so difficult to keep trying to keep fighting. But one more time the crowd and the fans helped me a lot to fight until last point. I think I have to say thank you to everyone for that,” an appreciative del Potro said after winning his favorite slam he dreamed of winning as a kid.

The set would go to a breaker where once again, the younger player was a little better. Using a Federer double, he carried through forcing two errors to take it 7-4, forcing a deciding set for all the marbles. The first time that had occurred since 1999 when Andre Agassi defeated Todd Martin.

“Well, if I lose the fourth set tiebreak I lose the match. I did unbelievable points. I was focused every time trying to think on the point, and that’s it,” noted del Potro after finishing with one more winner (57-56) and two fewer errors (60-62) in a closely fought final that saw him hold an eight point edge in total points (180-172).

Who had more left? Surprisingly, it was the youngster who played a superior set breaking Federer in the second game with another forehand pass pumping his fists.

Federer tried to comeback but a determined Del Potro fought off break chances to jump out to a 3-0 lead. One of the reasons he prevailed was how tough he was at crucial moments saving 17 of 22 break points while converting five of 15.

Not a whole a lot. I just thought he was more consistent throughout. You know, I mean, he played pretty much the same,” said Federer on the difference.

A weary Federer misfired from the baseline committing 15 of 62 unforced errors in a set similar to the one he played against Nadal at the beginning of the year in Australia. Meanwhile, a confident Del Potro continued to apply pressure dictating points with his huge groundstrokes. Somehow, he was deadly accurate only giving away four points by comparison.

When he easily held for 5-2, the crowd sensed what was about to happen. A changing of the guard was taking place. For five years, Federer had owned the place never even needing a final set to defeat five different players off an impressive list that included Lleyton Hewitt (2004-straights, 2 bagels), Andre Agassi (2005-4 sets), Andy Roddick (2006-4 sets), Djokovic (2007-straights) and Andy Murray (2008-straights). Before tonight, he’d dropped just two sets during that incredible run.

“Maybe I look back and have some regrets about it,” said Federer who kept it in proper perspective realizing how special it’s been. “But, you know, you can’t have them all and can’t always play your best.”

Of course, the great champ didn’t go down without a fight saving two championship points in the eighth game. But his 11th double prevented him from holding to at least force Del Potro to serve for it. Following an errant Federer forehand, Del Potro went for the kill ripping a deep forehand which even one of the greatest defenders couldn’t keep in sending a backhand prayer long to finally hand the championship over.

A stunned Del Potro dropped to the ground on his back in disbelief. He’d just done something no one else had beating both Nadal and Federer to win his first ever career slam.

“Well, when I lay down to the floor, many things come to my mind. First my family and my friends and everything. I don’t know how I can explain, because it’s my dream. My dream done. It’s over. I will go home with a trophy, and it’s my best sensation ever in my life,” a thrilled Del Potro stated.

“Yeah, I mean, this one I think is easy to get over just because I’ve had the most amazing summer,” Federer added after seeing his 40-match Open win streak halted.

“I tried everything, you know. Didn’t work. I missed chances. He played well and in the end it was a tough fifth set. It’s acceptable. But life goes on. No problem.”

For Del Potro who turns 21 September 23, this was the icing on the cake. Well, cheesecake since that’s what he hinted he’d have later in eight days.

“Yeah, of course. Beat Roger for first time here in my favorite Grand Slam, and two sets to one down, everything, I think it’s the best final ever in my life, of course.”

What could be better than to rule New York? He’s on top of the world.