FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – A US Open Final without Roger Federer?
That’s like the Yankees without the postseason or New York without the Statue of Liberty.
Or even Batman fighting crime in Gotham without his cape and utility belt.
Well it happened and you can thank the Djoker for having it come true.
In what is maybe the best match of the tournament, The Maestro goes down in a five set classic to Novak Djokovic, 5-7 6-2 5-7 6-2 7-5.
Djokovic wasn’t perfect in the match, but it does show how much ground was made up over the past few years. Before, Federer was clearly the best player in the tournament with every other player hoping for second place. Now, the playing field seems more level.
“It’s normal, because you can’t go through 10‑, 15‑year career thinking you’ll always be at the very top,” Federer said. “I think I did incredible work staying so long in the top 2 in the world. I never would have guessed in ’04 when I got to No. 1 for the first time that it was going to carry me for so long and that I was always going to be part of quarters, semis, finals of slams, and get a shot over and over again.
“I struggled to get into my first Grand Slam final back in 2003; whereas everybody predicted I was gonna win many and get to No. 1. It’s just not as easy as it seems. You can see with other players who are trying it. There’s many tough guys out there, and it’s gotten very physical, very mental. But I think I’m doing really well under the circumstances with as many challengers. I got a few guys back who were able to beat me, and many times when I lose I feel like it’s on my racquet. That’s a good thing, you know.
“I wouldn’t want to feel the way that I couldn’t compete with the new generation, but I can. It’s not a problem for me.”
Of course, Rafael Nadal is still standing in the Serbian’s way to his second Grand Slam title and after the Spaniard’s easy win, 6-2 6-3 6-4 over Mikhail Youzhny, Djokovic may have his hands full.
Federer, though, isn’t even bothering to watch. After being immersed in tennis over the past few weeks, the five-time champion said he had no interest in watching a final where he’s not playing.
“I will be spending time with the kids and go shopping,” he said. “I don’t know if the shops are open on Sunday in New York, but something will be.”
You can’t blame him though. The Maestro played his heart out and had a double match point in Game 10 of the fifth set. Yet, Djokovic was able to fight back, win that point and break Federer in the next game.
“I lost a couple more with match points this year, so they all pretty much feel the same, you know,” said Federer, whose only Grand Slam this year came in Melbourne. “They feel somewhat empty at the end because you have tried everything, and maybe it was luck. Maybe it was he played well. Maybe you didn’t pick the right shot; maybe he did, you know.
“Can’t turn back time, but, look, obviously had to come up come up with a couple of good shots on match point, so I don’t feel I have that many regrets in that regard. Obviously you feel like you left something out if you lose the match having had match point.
“Yeah, it wasn’t the final, so I’m not as disappointed it would have been the final. That’s the only positive news to enjoy anything out of it.”
What was surprising, though, was the relative easy Djokovic had in the second and fourth sets, where Federer only managed one and two games, respectively. It may have been there, where the former US Open Champion lost the match, because it gave the Serbian a belief he could win.
“Oh, it was close in the fifth,” he said. Unfortunately the second and fourth just kind of snuck away from me, I guess. The 1‑All 40‑15 game for me was a tough one to take in the second set, because I thought momentum was completely on my side. I tried to play aggressive, not to give him too much rhythm, and it all came back at me. I let him back in the match like that.
“At the end, it’s not easy, you know. 3‑All, 4‑All, 5‑All in the fifth, anything can happen. That’s the good part, not the bad part, because it’s not purely in your control.”
“Sure, now looking back I missed a few too many forehands at the very end, but the match won’t be decided on winners only. You can also see mistakes, and he pushed me to make those. Credit to him.”
And so on a day where New York wanted to finally see the ultimate matchup of Federer vs. Nadal, the Djoker spoiled the plans. And now Gotham’s Dark Knight will have a rare early September Sunday off, while the world’s eyes will turn to Federer-free final for the first time since 2003.