Sunday, September 12, 2010

US Open Report: Day 13

It was Super Saturday at the US Open and it certainly lived up to its name. Let's start at the end where 2nd seed Kim Clijsters successfully defended her US Open title for her third major victory. She becomes the first woman to defend her US Open title since Venus Williams did it in 2001. She did it by overpowering and controlling the court better than first time US Open finalist Vera Zvonareva who only managed to win three games against the Belgian. It was a clinical rout as Clijsters played the perfect game, using angles and a strong ground game to unnerve the Russian. Clijsters' streak of 21 consecutive matches at US Open lives on.

The men's final will take place tomorrow and it will be a first-time US Open champion. Top seed Rafael Nadal dismissed Mikhail Youzhny in the first semifinal match of the day breaking the Russian early in all three sets played and other than the one time he was broken (only the second time in the tournament) Nadal was solid with his serves. With this win, Nadal reaches his first US Open final and is now one match away from being the 7th man to win a career Grand Slam (winning all four majors).

The last man to get the career Grand Slam was 2nd seed Roger Federer and he was looking to reach his 7th straight US Open final as well as meet Nadal in the final at Flushing for the first time ever. 3rd seed Novak Djokovic, however, rained on that parade. Losing to Federer four times prior in the late rounds of the US Open, the fifth time was the charm as Djokovic outlasted the 5-time champion, saving two match points in the process, to win in five grueling sets. Last time Djokovic beat Federer at a slam, it was a career-defining win as he went on to win his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. This win, no matter the result on Sunday, should still be seen as career-defining as well. Federer for his part definitely had chances, but squandered momentum after winning the 1st and 3rd sets by going away in the 2nd and 4th sets. Federer will fall back to #3 in the world as Djokovic takes over the #2 ranking after the tournament.

Men's Final Preview: No matter who won the Federer-Djokovic match, Nadal would have still had a 14-7 H2H advantage over either player. Djokovic, however, edges Nadal 7-3 on hard courts and has won their last three meetings in relatively routine straight sets (all on hard courts). Nadal is 4-0 in slam matches they've played, but 3 of those were held in Roland Garros and they've never played at the US Open. The most important factor, however, may not be their past history, but what happened today. Nadal played first and won in quick and relatively drama-free fashion while Djokovic played the later match and had to spend so much energy to outlast Federer in five sets especially in that final set, down match points. Plus Nadal has never been hungrier for this title, the one title he is missing from his already storied career. Djokovic played the match of his life today, but he won't get past destiny tomorrow which has Rafael Nadal's name written all over it.

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