September 8, 2013

U.S. Open: Breaks finally go Djokovic's way

After losing an instant classic of a game to Stanislas Wawrinka, the 2011 champ advances to play Rafael Nadal for the title.

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - The game took 21 minutes. It lasted 30 points.

click image to enlarge

Novak Djokovic returns a shot to Stanislas Wawrinka in the semifinals at the 2013 U.S. Open tennis tournament on Saturday at New York. Djokovic won in five sets.

The Associated Press

WOMEN'S FINAL

WHO: No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 2 Victoria Azarenka

WHEN: 4:40 p.m.

TELEVISION: CBS

Novak Djokovic squandered five break points and lost that instant classic of a game but made Stanislas Wawrinka pay an awfully heavy price.

After dropping the epic third game of the final set Saturday, Djokovic broke the next time Wawrinka served, then didn't falter once he had the lead. The top-seeded Serb withstood a 4-hour, 9-minute onslaught of Wawrinka's massive groundstrokes to pull out a 2-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory and advance to his fourth straight final at the U.S. Open.

"Well, I was thinking -- I guess everybody was thinking -- 'Whoever wins this game is going to win the match,"' Djokovic said. "After he won the game, I thought to myself, 'OK, I guess I have to fight against those odds.'"

He did, to improve to 20-7 in five-set matches, and now the 2011 champion will go for his second U.S. Open title Monday against No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who had a much easier time in a 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-2 victory over eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet.

It will be the third Nadal-Djokovic final at Flushing Meadows in the last four years, the only break coming last year when Nadal was out with a knee injury. They split the first two meetings.

"Novak is an amazing competitor," Nadal said. "His results say that he is probably one of the best players that I have ever seen."

Nadal won easily despite dropping his first service game of the tournament. He had extended his streak to 73 when Gasquet broke him in the fourth game of the second set. Both men held until a second-set tiebreaker, which Nadal won 7-1 to end what little drama existed in the afternoon's second match.

Fans certainly got their money's worth in the first one.

"I managed to find my way through, to adjust, and to win," Djokovic said. "That's what counts."

His victory will be remembered mostly for a game he lost -- the third game of the final set, a back-and-forth roller coaster ride in which Djokovic had five opportunities to break for a 2-1 lead and lost them all.

Ninth-seeded Wawrinka had eight game points. Before the last, he gestured to the crowd to pump up the volume. Sensing the opportunity, Djokovic hammed it up, as well. Wawrinka followed that well-deserved break in the action with a 123-mph service winner up the middle.

"It was a really long game with some good points and some big mistakes," said Wawrinka, of Switzerland, who made it further than his country's most famous player, Roger Federer, for the first time in any of his 35 Grand Slam appearances.

"He was quite nervous. I was really tired," Wawrinka added. "I was struggling physically, and it was not easy to keep the level quite high. But, for me, it was just important to fight and not to let him go and not to lose 6-1 or 6-2, but just to try to get every game I can."

Playing in his first Grand Slam semifinal, Wawrinka opened with about as flawless a first set as possible. He broke Djokovic twice over the first 18 minutes, and when he completed the second break with a sizzling crosscourt forehand winner -- one of seven in that set -- Djokovic simply glanced across with a look that landed somewhere between bemused and amazed.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at OnlineSentinel.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)