Federer makes it four in a row

New York, September 10:

An hour after Roger Federer struck a most familiar pose, hoisting that silver trophy over his head, another celebration took place at the US Open.

Novak Djokovic’s family and friends threw him a little party on Sunday night, as if he’d won. Made sense, too. Because these days, everyone in tennis is basically playing for second place behind Roger the Great.

In a match that tilted as much on mental strength as shot-making ability, Federer beat back seven set points on Sunday in a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-4 win over Djokovic for a fourth straight US Open and a 12th Grand Slam title.

Federer became the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win the American Grand Slam four years in a row. Add in his five straight Wimbledon titles, plus his three overall at the Australian Open and he’s two away from Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Slams.

Djokovic was the last player to beat Federer, winning two tiebreakers at a tournament in Montreal a month ago. But on centre court, it was different. Ahead 6-5, the third-seeded Djokovic took a 40-love lead and served for the first set. He wound up dropping five set points and double-faulted to make it 6-all.

Midway through the tiebreaker, Djokovic put a backhand into the net. He slammed his racket and a little piece broke off. Sitting in his chair during the break, Djokovic squashed a water bottle. A couple of ballboys needed to mop up the spill. Djokovic led 6-5 in the second set and had two chances to win it on Federer’s serve. No luck this time, either. Djokovic rocketed a shot that went long and challenged the call. The replay showed the ball was out by one millimeter.

Federer earned a Grand Slam-record $2.4 million: $1.4 million for winning the tournament, and a $1m bonus because he finished atop the US Open Series standings based on performances at hard-court tuneup events.