Federer beats Djokovic to reach U.S. Open final

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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TENNIS

As the losses piled up and the titles escaped him, Roger Federer insisted he felt fine, he wasn't washed up and his game would come around.

Oh, did Federer look good against Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals.

Buoyed by a stellar start and a fantastic finish, Federer beat Djokovic 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 Saturday to move one victory from a fifth consecutive U.S. Open championship and 13th Grand Slam title overall.

Roger Federer

New York - As the losses piled up and the titles escaped him, Roger Federer insisted he felt fine, he wasn't washed up and his game would come around.

Oh, did Federer look good against Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals.

Buoyed by a stellar start and a fantastic finish, Federer beat Djokovic 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 Saturday to move one victory from a fifth consecutive U.S. Open championship and 13th Grand Slam title overall.

"One more match is all I need," Federer said in an on-court interview.

It was his 33rd straight win at Flushing Meadows and put him in his 13th final in the past 14 major tournaments.

The one gap in that span was the Australian Open in January, when Djokovic upset Federer in the semifinals en route to the title.

Perhaps that gave Federer extra motivation Saturday, and he dominated the start and the last 1 1/2 sets.

Even he knew he sensed his magic had returned.

"I definitely had moments during today where I thought, 'This is how I would like to play every time,"' Federer said. "It was a very nice feeling to get that feeling back."

Federer, who finished with 20 aces and only one double-fault despite a swirling wind, will meet No. 1 Rafael Nadal or No. 6 Andy Murray in the title match. Nadal-Murray was in a rain delay in the third set; Murray won the first two, and Nadal was up a break in the third.

Federer was asked whom he'd rather face. A reasonable question, given that Nadal routed him in the French Open final, edged him 9-7 in the fifth set of the Wimbledon final, and supplanted him atop the rankings last month after Federer's record 237-week stay at No. 1.

"Who do I prefer? I prefer the trophy, that's what I prefer," Federer said, drawing a roar of approval from the fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

And then came an answer that might surprise some.

"I guess I've got to say Rafa," Federer continued, "because we've had such great battles over the years. Wimbledon was unbelievable, so I hope we can do it again here."

Instead of back-to-back semifinals on Ashe, worries about impending rain from Tropical Storm Hanna prompted tournament officials to shift Nadal-Murray to Louis Armstrong Stadium and start it while Federer-Djokovic was in progress.

When that court shift was announced in Ashe, there was pronounced booing from fans who bought tickets figuring they would see both semifinals.

Thousands of fans rose from their seats and ran from one court to the other, spurring security guards to yell, "Slow down!"

Those remaining in Ashe cheered for both No. 2 Federer and No. 3 Djokovic, to be sure, but there was more support for the reigning champion.

Maybe that's because they remembered what happened Thursday night. After beating Andy Roddick, Djokovic drew merciless boos by lashing out at the American, taking him to task for making light of the Serb's series of medical issues earlier in the week,

Or maybe the fans simply figured Federer needed an extra push during what, by his so-special standards, has been a sub-par season.

The title match between two-time champion Serena Williams and first-time Grand Slam finalist Jelena Jankovic was postponed from Saturday until today because of heavy rain brought by tropical storm Hanna.

Organizations: Australian Open

Geographic location: New York, Ashe, Wimbledon Arthur Ashe Stadium Louis Armstrong Stadium

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