As Roger Federer wakes up in New York Sunday morning he is sure to reflect on another US Open that got away. Normally it’s not like this. As he himself noted earlier in the year, he’s supposed to come through in the clutch.
Yet for the second consecutive year his US Open campaign – and dreams of a sixth title at Flushing Meadows – have ended in heartbreak. Last year the Swiss was within two points of victory in the fourth set of the final against Juan Martin del Potro but he couldn’t close out the match. On Saturday he held two match points late in the fifth set but couldn't finish off Novak Djokovic.
It is the third time this year that Federer has lost a match on hard court after holding match point. He failed to convert three match points against Marcos Baghdatis at Indian Wells and squandered one match point against Tomas Berdych in Miami.
“I lost a couple more with match points this year, so they all pretty much feel the same,” Federer said in his post-match press conference Saturday. “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.”
Although Federer was the more aggressive of the two players and found success in regular forays to the net, he was ultimately brought undone by 66 unforced errors to Djokovic’s 38. He also struggled on serve, putting just 53 per cent of first serves into play.
The five-time ATP World Tour Champion also paid the price for twice handing back the momentum to Djokovic after winning the first and third sets.
Federer said that he shared the disappointment of many tennis fans that a dream No. 1 vs. No. 2 final with Nadal would not eventuate. “I would have loved to play against him here. I did my hard yards the last six years making it to the finals, and he was unfortunately never there. That's obviously disappointing. And now one point away from this happening, obviously it's a bit of disappointment.”
Federer said that he knew from the outset that this year’s US Open was going to be tough, but said that fitness was not an issue in his loss to Djokovic.
“[I was] not really tired. Just, I guess, tense from the situation and from the crowd. It was electric. It was good tennis at the end, so that was the tougher part. I came into this match perfectly ready, didn't drop any sets, didn't waste any time on the court. I felt good out there… I had a tough draw with Soderling and Novak in my section. I knew I had my hands full with those kind of matches.”
Federer said that he had seen enough tennis at this year’s US Open and would not watch the final. “I've been around tennis for weeks and weeks and weeks right now. Last thing I want to do is watch another tennis match where I'm not a part of. I will spend some time with my kids and take it easy, maybe go shopping. I don't know if shops are open here in New York Sundays, but I'm sure something is open."
I'm not even gonna post the score-line of this tortuous match. Feel free to look those up yourselves.
I'm going back to looking at the pretty pictures of Kim Clijsters with her shiny new trophy, and living in denial.
Also, like Roger skipping tomorrow's men final. I've had enough of tennis for the next little while myself. At least in the watching sense.