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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sports Saturday Thread #3 For 9/11/10: The Pleasant Spolier, Novak Whacks Dream Final, Beats Federer In A Thriller

At the days' beginning, disappointment would have been on most tennis fans' faces if the dream final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer somehow did not happen.

At days end, that disappointment could possibly be made easier, if not be wiped away completely .

In a remarkable effort, Novak Djokovic has played the role of ultimate spoiler, fighting off two match points to defeat Federer 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 to advance to the final against Nadal tomorrow.

Nothing short of "terrific" could be the adjective to describe this second semifinal, the total opposite of Nadal's romp over Mikhail Youzhny in the preceding match. Djokovic delivered his best tennis arguably in two years with this display today, hitting his backhand and forehand with the conviction that garnered him the 2008 Australian Open title.

No more was that assurance in his strokes more evident than the two match points at 4-5 in the final set he saved, as Djokovic hit two back to back forehand winners to help propel himself to even at 5-all.

From them on, the Serbian was just a little bit steady on his forehand side, as Federer's two crucial errors on his favorite but now more erratic side allowed Djokovic to serve out for a spectacular win.

And though Federer was keen to break right back to force a tiebreak, Djokovic again rose to the occasion, hitting through the court and outlasting the Swiss legend in a long rally to bring it to deuce. Djokovic's steadiness continued on what turned out to be the last two points, as Federer's backhand on match point sailed wide to give the much maligned #3 seed an amazing victory.

It's a devastating loss for Federer, who looked keen on trying to win his 6th US Open, not dropping a single set all the way to the final. Instead, his defeat here in the semifinal marks the first year since 2003 that he hasn't reached the ultimate stage here at Flushing Meadows, as well as relinquishing the #2 ranking to his conqueror today.

The question of how much Djokovic will have left against Nadal is obviously on everyone's minds going into tomorrow's final.

But what stands out in the forefront now though is his memorable display at playing the role of "The Spoiler" to absolute perfection.
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