fwiw, pmac picked fed in 4 and luke jensen likes fed to win as well.
By Bud Collins
updated 8:43 p.m. PT, Sun., Sept. 7, 2008
Hanna didn’t do much vamping yesterday. True, she let Roger Federer prove at Arthur Ashe Stadium that he’s still among the best in the game as he dismantled Novak Djokovic 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
Trouble is, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, whose match was moved to Louis Armstrong Stadium because of the threatening weather, had to put on their rain gear after Murray won the first two sets 6-2, 7-6. Nadal was up 3-2 in the third and had a service break when the downpour started and they had to make a dash for cover.
They were back on the court (Ashe Stadium this time) at 4 p.m. Sunday, and Murray continued his fearless play, topping the game’s No. 1, 6-2, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4. With the victory, he becomes the first player from Britain (though he stresses he’s Scottish) to reach the U.S. Open final since Greg Rusedski (who was formerly a Canadian) in 1997. With the win, I think he put himself in position to become first Brit since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the U.S. singles title (the year Perry won all four of the majors).
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After their memorable Wimbledon final, everyone — and that’s no exaggeration — wanted to see Federer and Nadal in another final. That it didn’t happen indicates just how much of a player Murray has become. Nadal, after all, won two majors, was in the semifinals of two others and won a Gold Medal. He recently became the No. 1 ranked player, replacing Federer, who had held the spot for more than four years. That Nadal came up short here doesn’t diminish what he has accomplished. This year he has been the best in the men’s game.
Best on the court
On Saturday, Federer started the match with an ace up the tee. By the end of the match, he had 20. He brought his serve out of hiding. In his first five matches, he had 64 aces. So it’s clear, he served very well. It was the best he’s played during the tournament.
In the quarterfinals, Igor Andreev was unexpectedly tough. The last time Federer had to go five sets at the U.S. Open was in 2004 when he defeated Andre Agassi 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. I think this match against Djokovic eliminated a lot of pressure.
He played like the old Federer. He played aggressively and hit the lines regularly. He won 135 of the 249 points played. He hit 51 winners, eight more than Djokovic and made 19 fewer unforced errors. I almost wonder where he has been hiding. The four-time U.S. Open champion has reached the semifinals at 18 majors, a record. Many players don’t play 18 majors in a row.
I think the match was a good lesson for Djokovic. In the fourth round against Tommy Robredo, he called for the trainer a number of times. Before their quarterfinal, Andy Roddick had joked that he had 16 injuries.
Following his victory over the top American, Djokovic told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd that he felt he proved he didn’t have 16 injuries. He didn’t endear himself to the fans when he dissed Roddick. Things were made worse by the fact that he was trying to beat Federer, the defending champion.
It almost seemed like 18,000 people flew in from Basel. They may have even brought Juliet along — the cow the Swiss gave him following his first Wimbledon championship. Djokovic being Djokovic helped Federer focus, and the defending champ had a lot of support.
I really became a Murray fan after he defeated Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinals 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-5. He has a tremendous backhand and a very good serve. He changes speed as smooth as a good driver changes gears in a race car and he’s very clever.
Nadal and Murray played a tiring three hours and 30 minutes. Of the 275 points contested, Murray earned 149. He had 11 more winners than unforced errors. He made Nadal very un-Nadal-like, forcing him to commit eight more unforced errors than winners. Even more remarkable, Murray had 21 aces against one of the game’s best returners, and only three double faults.
He kept Nadal off balance varying the pace, returning serve from almost the baseline fence and he made Nadal, whose game is running, cover more of the court than normal by using the width and depth as if he was teaching a class in geometry.
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It seems that Federer has grown resentful, and he’s a very classy guy, over what has had been written this year about his not having mononucleosis. I think in Australia it played a factor in his loss to Djokovic in the semifinals. He is now 7-2 in his career against Djokovic and I think he wanted to prove a point.
For the second year in a row, all four U.S. Open semifinalists were from Europe, and it was the first time since 1992 that the top three seeds reached the semis. Federer, who has 36 career hard court titles that ties him with Pete Sampras, was the only one in the group who hadn’t won a tournament on the surface this year. Murray has won three and both Djokovic and Nadal two each.
The U.S. Open has been Murray’s favorite tournament since he won the Boys’ championship as a 17-year-old in 2004. He has become a factor in the men’s game, and I think that is wonderful for Britain. He will be on all the front pages Monday morning and admits that, in the past, he didn’t deal well with the press.
This is not surprising since the tabloids would kill anyone who isn’t Christ. Still, his career record is 2-1 against Federer, having defeated him in Dubai this year 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 and at Cincinnati two years ago.
Federer is chasing Sampras, who won a record 14 majors. He has 12 now, and 34 straight wins in New York. (Bill Tilden holds the tournament record with 42.) He is looking to put a sunny look on what has been a drab year.
Murray is much more subtle than Djokovic, and I think he will give Federer trouble. He has a real shot, and though he will not have as much rest as the defending champion, with the match starting tomorrow night at 5 p.m., I don’t think this will be a problem. It’s his first major, but he has proved he can compete.
I’m not very good at picking winners, but I’m picking Murray.