US Open Day 13: Roger Federer is playing a waiting game
NEW YORK -Like every other tennis fan, Roger Federer is playing a waiting game.
The superstar from Switzerland is only one step away from a record fifth consecutive US Open victory, but he has neither idea when that match will be played nor who he will be playing against.
Looking like the Federer of old, he rushed through his semifinal Saturday to beat third-ranked Novak Djokovic 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-2.
Tropical Storm Hanna arrived in New York City as predicted, halting the other semifinal between sixth-seeded Andy Murray and the world’s top-ranked player, Rafael Nadal. Murray, playing in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time, was leading 6-2 7-6 (5) 2-3 when rain halted play.
US Open officials said the semifinal will resume on Sunday, weather permitting, with the final being played late Monday afternoon.
The women’s final between Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic was pushed back to Sunday night. It originally was scheduled to be played in primetime on Saturday.
Nadal, seeking to become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open in the same year, is also playing in the semifinals of America’s premier tennis tournament for the first time.
Federer, meanwhile, is comfortable on the hard courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and on Saturday he showed the game that has taken him to 12 Grand Slam tournament men’s singles titles, second only to Pete Sampras.
“I have been struggling on hard court,” said Federer, who has yet to win a hard court title this year. “I have no problems admitting that. But here it hasn’t been a struggle because I played well on clay and on grass, so maybe that’s why I’m more emotional.”
Against Djokovic, he was almost perfect.
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“The way I played the first set was the key moment,” Federer said. “I had a feeling he was looking a little weary, a little bit tired. … I think I broke his will as well when I got the third set. I think he let his head hang a little bit.”
Twenty-five minutes after they started, Federer had taken the opening set, breaking her Serbian opponent in the fourth game. His big serves set up his devastating ground game, allowing him to control points.
“In the important moments he served it out really well,” Djokovic admitted. “He didn’t give me a chance because he really served well, so I wasn’t able to get in the point.”
Federer didn’t have pressure on his service games until the second game of the second set. By then, Djokovic had begun hitting his ground strokes with more power, moving Federer from side to side on the baseline until he found an opening.
After Djokovic, the reigning Australian Open champion, leveled the match by winning the second set, he led the third set 2-1.
That’s when Federer raised his game another notch, ripping off the next five games.
“I definitely had moments during today where I thought, `This is how I would like to play every time,” said Federer, who finished with 20 aces and only one double-fault. “It was a very nice feeling to get that feeling back.”
Now he waits for the title match, whenever that might be.
“One more match is all I need,” Federer said.