How Novak Djokovic Not Only Overcame Roger Federer, But Also the U.S. Fans - UBITENNIS
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How Novak Djokovic Not Only Overcame Roger Federer, But Also the U.S. Fans

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By James Beck,

 

 

NEW YORK – The last U.S. Open without a complete roof was an overwhelming success. The rain started as soon as the women’s final ended, and then again just before the men’s final was to begin.

No harm done on Sunday evening at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Some fans in one end zone’s upper deck even benefitted from a partial roof while waiting out the two-hour delay before the start of the Roger Federer-Novak Djokovic men’s final.

RAIN DELAY MADE THE FINAL BETTER

The delay just made the main event that much better, as it should have been: the match of the tournament. Yes, Djokovic’s four-set win over Federer was much more thrilling and better played than Flavia Pennetta’s easy victory over old friend Roberta Vinci in the women’s final or Vinci’s upset of Serena Williams.

Federer gave the impression all week that Arthur Ashe Stadium now belonged in his arsenal of weapons as a result of the partial roof that reduced the effects of the wind. The TV commentators, mainly Brad Gilbert and Patrick McEnroe, ate it up. It was perfect for his game, Federer made viewers think.

It was like Djokovic’s game was sour, not suitable for such a perfect Federer condition. When asked a couple of days before the finish what all of the upsets meant, a beaming McEnroe answered something like: “What this means is that Federer’s gonna win another major.”

POOR NOVAK JUST HAD TO TAKE THE FAN ABUSE

No wonder the fans treated Djokovic so rudely Sunday night. If the ESPN gang could be so outrageously supportive of Federer, why not the crowd, too. Poor Novak just had to take all of the abuse from the fans.

Even the court announcer introduced Federer “as arguably the greatest player ever.”

Wow, and here’s little Novak going for his third major of the year, playing in his fourth major final of 2015. He was only going for Grand Slam No. 10.

FEDERER OVERWHELMED IN RECENT YEARS BY COMPETITION

Lost in all of this was the fact that many of Federer’s Grand Slam conquests came in the age of “no real challengers” to his superb talent, the time before Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray came into their own.

And for Djokovic, it’s been war after war, fighting off Nadal, Federer and Murray to win his share of Grand Slam titles. All of the competition just made Novak better, while it seemed to overwhelm Federer in recent years.

Federer was back this year in the spotlight in New York as the men’s tour seemed to go flat late in the year, except for Djokovic and Federer. Nadal wasn’t his old tenacious self and Murray looked kind of tired.

FANS TRIED TO CARRY ROGER PAST NOVAK

The fans thought they could carry Federer on their shoulders past a player who is quietly and quickly putting his own stamp on being one of the greatest players ever, maybe right there with Rod Laver and the others.

“Double (fault),” someone would yell as Djokovic started his service motion on a critical point late in the match. The fan outbursts were always timed perfectly for the big moments when Djokovic faced a huge break point or break points, or when it appeared that Novak was just about ready to send Federer to the showers.

Federer had unbridled fan support all night, while Djokovic caught the wrath of the fans. Djokovic would just stand on the service line, look up into the eyes of his real enemy – the fans – and come up with a huge serve or brilliant shot. The bigger the moment, the more determined Djokovic appeared.

MOST MEMORABLE POINT OF MATCH

The most memorable point of the entire match was as Djokovic served with a 3-2, ad-in advantage in the fourth set. This was the killer point that could put Federer away. So, a fan tries to help Federer by yelling “Double” just as Novak went into his service motion. Djokovic stopped, looked up for a second, then responded emphatically with an ace.

That pretty much sealed the deal as Djokovic then broke Federer in the next game for a 5-2 lead. Of course, it wasn’t over as Federer broke right back and then held service before gaining double break point in the 10th game.

The fans went wild, thinking their man was going to even the set, but Djokovic got back to deuce twice before coming up with two strong serves that Federer couldn’t return into play. Roger Federer is a great player who gave a brilliant performance, but at the current time in their careers

Novak Djokovic is the better player.

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James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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Stefanos Tsitsipas, Gilles Simon and Felix Auger Aliassime reach the the semifinal in Marseille

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Defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Vasek Pospisil 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 17 minutes to reach the semifinal at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Both players stayed neck and neck until 5-5, before Tsitsipas earned his first break, when Pospisil hit a backhand long. The Greek star wrapped up the first set with an ace after 45 minutes.

Tsitsipas claimed his second break at 3-3 with a backhand return and reeled off 10 consecutive points to seal the second set 6-3.

Tsitsipas fired 8 aces and won 26 of his 30 first service points.

“It was not easy. I knew I would have to fight and be dynamic. He plays a very aggressive brand of tennis, so every point has to be treated respectfully. I played with passion and patience, and my fighting spirit, when I am in the right zone. It means good things can happen”, said Tsitsipas.

Gilles Simon cruised through to an upset 6-4 6-0 win over Danil Medvedev to advance to the semifinal. Simon converted five of his six break point chances and lost his serve only once.

The French veteran will take on Felix Auger Aliassime, who beat Egor Gerasimov 7-5 6-2. The young Canadian star broke serve four times and and won 83 % of his first serve points.

Gerasimov earned an early break in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead, but Auger Aliassime came back by winning two consecutive games to win the opening set 7-5. Auger Aliassime converted his fourth break point in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead and sealed the second set with another break in the eighth game.

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Alexander Bublik reaches his third career semifinal with win over Denis Shapovalov in Marseille

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Alexander Bublik reached the third ATP Tour semifinal of his career after beating Canadian Canadian Next Gen player Denis Shapovalov 7-5 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Bublik fended off a total of four break points in the first set, including three chances from 0-40, got the break in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5, when Shapovalov hit a forehand volley wide at 30-40 after 45 minutes.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the second set. Bublik did not convert three break points at 3-2, when he hit a forehand into the net on his first break point chance. Shapovalov broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead with a drop shot and wrapped up the second set with his third ace.

Bublik opened up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Shapovalov broke straight back in the third game. Bublik got another break lead in the eighth lead at 15, when Shapovalov hit a forehand wide. Bublik sealed the win with a hold at love.

“He is a great player and serve. It was our first match, but I have known him for a very long time. I was happy to break in the first set, then in the second set he was better, and I had my chances in the third and I held on. So I am very happy”,said Bublik.

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Milos Raonic, Steve Johnson, Frances Tiafoe and Ugo Humbert reach the quarter final in Delray Beach

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Milos Raonic hit 11 aces and saved the three break points he faced to beat German Cedrik Marcel Stebe 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 36 minutes reaching the quarter final at the Delray Beach, an ATP Tour 250 tournament.

 

Raonic earned a break in each set. Stebe earned a break point in the ninth game with a forehand down the line, but Raonic saved it with a forehand. Raonic faced two more break points in the 11th game, but Raonic saved them with service winners. Raonic earned a break with a forehand down the line winner in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5. Raonicwon four consecutive points on return to earn a break and closed out the match 6-3 with a hold of serve.

“I got lucky through that first set and then I tried to be a bit more aggressive, create more things and that put a bit more pressure on him. It opened up the match for me a bit more”, said Raonic.

Raonic set up a quarter final against Steve Johnson, who edged past his compatriot Jack Sock 6-4 5-7 6-1 after 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach his first quarter final at ATP Tour level in six months. Johnson came back from losing the second set by racing out to a 5-0 lead.

“This is just one of those tournaments where you feel comfortable coming back every year. It’s great to see Sock back. I thought he played a really good second set and I just got bit of a momentum in the third set”, said Johnson.

French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert edged Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 42 minutes to reach his third quarter final in 2020. Humbert fended off eight of the ten break points he faced and earned three breaks to win the last four games of the first set from 2-4 down. Humbert broke Kecmanovic, as the Serbian player was serving for the second set at 6-5. The Frenchman saved a set point and came back from 5-6 down by winning the final three points of the tie-break to clinch the win after 1 hour and 43 minutes. Humbert has improved his win-loss record this year to 8-3.

“It’s always tough to play against Miomir, because he is a great player. He always plays at a high level. I lost to him last week and I was a little bit stressed before the match, so I am very happy to get the win today. You have to enjoy the victory because it’s not easy every week. Winning in Auckland gave me a lot of confidence. I beat some great players, but I have to continue my improvement every day”,said Humbert.

Humbert will face US player Frances Tiafoe, who battled past Tommy Paul 7-5 7-6 (7-4). Both players stayed neck and neck in the first set until the 11th game when Tiafoe earned a break with a return winner. He served out the set 7-5 with a service winner in the 12th game.

Paul earned a break in the sixth game, but he dropped his serve, while he serving for the set at 5-3. Tiafoe closed out the match with a backhand crosscourt winner at 6-4 in the tie-break.

“It’s never easy playing a good friend. It’s awkward, but I thought it was a pretty good match overall. My forehand was definitely on, so that helped. I am starting to play good tennis again and just competing hard in every match”,said Tiafoe.  

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