On the screen, his greatest rival, Roger Federer, was struggling to control his emotions as he accepted the Australian Open trophy from Rod Laver. As Federer found himself unable to withstand the joy and relief of winning a seventh Grand Slam title and…
All I need to see now is Wawrinka defeat Hewitt. Stan said that after two long matches he doesn’t know how he is holding up with his legs, so I am worried. This rubber is the decider, whoever wins this match wins the tie and goes through.
“I had it. There’s no more I could do. [Novak Djokovic] snaps one shot, and then the whole thing changes… I didn’t hit the best serve. But it’s just the way he returns that. To lose against someone like that, it’s very disappointing, because you feel like he was mentally out of it already. Just gets the lucky shot at the end, and off you go… Look, some players grow up and play like that. I remember losing junior matches. Just being down 5-2 in the third, and they all just start slapping shots. It all goes in for some reason, because that’s the kind of way they grew up playing when they were down. I never played that way. I believe in hard work’s gonna pay off kinda thing, because early on maybe I didn’t always work at my hardest. So for me, this is very hard to understand how can you play a shot like that on match point. But, look, maybe he’s been doing it for 20 years, so for him it was very normal.”— Roger Federer commenting on the semi’s. So true (via sportsjournal)
With good reason, Roger Federer struggled to accept the uncanny repetition of defeat by Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the US Open.
A year after Djokovic saved two match points in the final set to reach the final at Flushing Meadows, he did it again, winning 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 in three hours and 51 minutes.
It was the second time this year Federer had lost after winning the first two sets. He was devastated when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did it to him at Wimbledon and similarly crushed here yesterday – especially in exactly the same circumstances as 12 months ago.
"It’s awkward having to explain this loss," a tetchy Federer said, "because I feel like I should be doing the other press conference."
There followed a string of excuses and justifications which not only were barely sustainable given the evidence but seriously disrespected the winner.
Asked about the quite remarkable forehand winner Djokovic hit to save match point, Federer reckoned the Serb did not look at that point like someone “who believes much anymore in winning. To lose against someone like that, it’s very disappointing, because you feel like he was mentally out of it already. Just gets the lucky shot at the end, and off you go.”
Djokovic was honest enough to admit the shot was a gamble – but Federer was reluctant to give him credit even for that courage in a crisis, preferring to regard it as desperate.
"Confidence? Are you kidding me?" he said when it was put to him the cross-court forehand off his first serve – described by John McEnroe as "one of the all-time great shots" – was either a function of luck or confidence.
"I mean, please. Some players grow up and play like that – being down 5-2 in the third, and they all just start slapping shots. I never played that way. I believe hard work’s going to pay off, because early on maybe I didn’t always work at my hardest. For me, this is very hard to understand. How can you play a shot like that on match point? Maybe he’s been doing it for 20 years, so for him it was very normal. You’ve got to ask him."
Djokovic was in a more relaxed mood. “Yeah, I tend to do that on match points,” he said, reminded that it was exactly what he did to Federer last year. “It kinda works.”
He added: “If you’re playing somebody like Roger, you have to take your chances when they’re presented. I don’t want to say I’ve been in control of the fifth set, because that’s not true. But this is what happens at this stage of a tournament when two top players meet. Just a couple of points decide the winner.
"I had to take my chances. I was very close to being on my way back home. He was serving, 40-15 up. I got a little bit of energy from the crowd, and I fought back. I needed to stay positive, and I definitely didn’t want the French Open to happen again [when Federer beat him in the semi-finals, his first loss of the year]. They were an incredible last two games.
"It’s always important to be calm, to stay positive, and to believe, to believe that you can win."
As for Federer, who has not added to his 16 Grand Slams in the 18 months since the 2010 Australian Open, he still believes.
"Today I clearly felt like I never should have lost," he said, "where in Wimbledon [against Tsonga] it was – I don’t want to say it was more out of my control – but it’s reaction tennis on grass. I was never up a break in the third, fourth, or fifth at Wimbledon, which today I was. I was one serve away, really. I get over these losses quickly. Wimbledon didn’t get me down.”
He was not entirely convincing. He has played brilliantly here – but cracked at the business end of the tournament.