Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Samantha Stosur In Finals

2011 US Open
By Hiland Doolittle, September 11th, 2011
Novak Djokovic Defeated Roger Federer in Semifinals at 2011 US Open

Novak Djokovic Defeated Roger Federer in Semifinals at 2011 US Open

On Saturday, Novak Djokovic was the unlikely survivor against a determined and very sharp Roger Federer in a five set thriller that set the tone for a dynamic day of championship caliber tennis.

The top seeded Djokovic came all the way back from 2 sets down and 15-40 with Federer serving for the match at 5-3 in the 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 triumph. The match featured finesse, amazing power and deft strokes that left the packed house at Arthur Ashe Stadium cheering in awe at the quality of play and tension that every point emitted.

Federer had handed Djokovic one of his two losses this year and was in top form entering the final week of play. The US Open is Federer’s home away from home and the fans rallied behind their favorite who was as sharp as can be in the first two sets.

As always the very game Djokovic was up to the challenge. The younger Djokovic might have crumbled under the assault that Federer brought to the biggest arena in the game. Both players showed great form in the 55 minute first set. The match lasted nearly four hours and was an emotional roller-coaster that will never be forgotten by those who were lucky enough to have a seat.

Federer got the first break in the first set and opened a 5-2 lead against the Serb. Djoko managed a late break to send the first set into a tiebreaker. In an indication of the intensity that was to come, the Swiss jumped ahead 6-3 but was thwarted on three set points before finally sealing the set at 9-7.

Federer locked up the only break in the second set and secured a commanding two set lead. Both players were laboring under the weight of the crowd and the level of play.

Djokovic is a big favorite in Hollywood and drew inspiration from some very vocal, very notable support. Novak made an early break stand in the 42 minute third set. The set was finalized when Roger mishit a backhand long.

The shift in momentum clearly swung in the Serb’s favor. Both players were adding pace and striking the ball with uncanny precision but Djokovic was ready and applied tremendous pressure to force two breaks and finish the fourth set at 6-2.

Heading into the final set, Djokovic had the momentum and a good amount of support but the 16-time Grand Slam winner was not ready to go home. The two players locked horns in this 55-minute exhibition of brilliance. In the eighth game, Federer surprised Novak and captured a very timely break.

At 5-3, the Swiss raced to a commanding 40-15 lead and was serving for the match. His served pushed Djokovic wide to the right side of the deuce court. Djokovic negotiated the type shot that only great players can make under the extreme pressure of the moment. His all-or-nothing cross-court angled forehand was an outright winner that set the fans abuzz.

Djokovic held and assaulted Roger’s serve with deep crushing groundstrokes from both the forehand and backhand sides. The devastated Swiss fell short of answers and could not overcome the power surge.

The match was an eerie and haunting loss for the game’s greatest player. Federer also lost to Djokovic in the semis last year after have two match points against Novak’s serve. Djokovic recorded his 63rd win against just two losses and looks for his final confrontation with Nadal.

Statistically, Roger did everything he had to do to win this one. He showed remarkable speed, quick feet and a strong right arm as he fired 11 aces and hit 49 winners. His risk oriented offense marked his downfall with 59 unforced errors. Roger lost, Novak Won and both legends continue.

Rafa Nadal Outguns Andy Murray

Rafa Nadal started quickly and ended with a flourish against his long-time friend and opponent Andy Murray. In a much-anticipated battle between two of the tour’s most gifted and gritty competitors, Rafa Nadal benefitted from a weak performance by Andy Roddick in the quarters and combined his incredible speed and daring to put away the Scotsman. Murray had battled John Isner in four tense sets on Friday.

The three and one half hour semifinal battle was filled with terrific shot making that went the Spaniard’s way. Murray and Djokovic are regarded as two of the best returners in the game but the greatest shot maker is clearly Nadal.

The shot maker was clearly on his game against Murray in racking up 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 semifinal win. In his bid for his 11th Grand Slam title, Nadal broke in the seventh game of the first set and then twice in the second set before Murray came to life and became the hunter.

The skilled number four seed is clearly a notch above the rest of the tour but a hair below the standards needed to shuffle the big three. The crowd was rooting for one more come-from-behind effort from Andy. After capturing the third set, the stage was set.

However, Murray was spent. He looked gimpy and sometimes clutched his lower back. Despite a game effort, a wounded duck cannot match Rafa. The Scotsman amassed 55 unforced errors and the Spaniard played his way to the finals.

Serena Overpowers Caroline

Two players that will lock horns again and probably sooner rather than later took the court late Saturday night in a much-anticipated meeting. The match was to pit the dominant Williams against the top ranked Caroline Wozniacki in a tortoise and hare confrontation.

The match promised the game’s best offensive player and the game’s best defensive player and both players were true to form. Williams is long known for her blazing serve and her aggressive style. Wozniacki, who has done everything but win a major, in her young career, is the extremely fit and uncanny baseline player.

Wozniacki has used those skills to attain her top ranked status and although she has not won a major, she is just 21-years old and is a great ambassador for the game.

Williams is in pursuit of her 14th Grand Slam. Serena has yet to lose a set and the four seed Victoria Azarenka described her game as overwhelming. En route to the US Open, Williams returned to the tour and notched wins in Toronto and Stanford.

Wozniacki lost in early rounds in some hard court tournaments before she claimed the New Haven title. The Dane did everything she could to make Serena hit the extra ball, make the extra shot but she could not overcome power game that is Serena Williams.

Clearly Williams has come back to the game in terrific condition and shows no signs of rust. To make matters worse, Serena changed her pressing baseline style to take charge of the net where she won 17 of 21 net rushes.

After a first set blowout, Caroline continued her baseline strategy and at times it looked like Williams was tiring. But, the 6-2, 6-4 win exemplifies the Americans fitness as well as the strongest serve to ever grace the woman’s game.

Stosur End Cinderella Kerber’s Run

Angelique Kerber will never forget the 2011 US Open. The tour’s 91st ranked player had lost 12 consecutive matches leading up to the Open. However, her brave charge over five higher ranked players established the German as more evidence that the German women are surging to the forefront.

Kerber advanced further than high profile countrymates Andrea Petkovic, Julia Goerges and Sabine Lisicki. However, Australia’s Samantha Stosur used her notorious kick serve to race to a first set lead and served the set out with one break.

Kerber was down but not out. Stosur, who will be playing in her third Grand Slam final, is known to get tight in big matches. Kerber’s relentless retrieving and baseline play earned her a brisk 6-2 second set. Samantha’s weapons are her serve and piercing forehand. Her weakness is an erratic backhand.

In the third set, Samantha became aggressive. Using a well-oiled net game and her forehand, she had Kerber scampering east-west while Samantha was inside the court and moving north-south. The 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 win places the hard working Australian in the finals Sunday afternoon.

Stosur should take confidence in her fitness that enabled her to defeat Andrea Petkovic in the longest women’s match ever played and playing the longest women’s tiebreaker ever played against Maria Kirilenko. The Australian has the credentials and staying power to challenge Serena.

Williams and Stosur have played six times with Williams winning four of the battles. To stand a chance against the American, Stosur will have to silence the crowd and start fast. If Samantha’s serve is working, it can cause problems for Serena. It is time for Samantha to show up, forget the nerves and play like a champion.


No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.