US Open 2015 Day 14: Previewing Djokovic vs. Federer

published: Sep, 13, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

by: Tom Cochrane

Flavia Pennetta is the 2015 US Open women’s singles champion, the Italian capturing her first Grand Slam with a straight sets win over compatriot Roberta Vinci.

This afternoon, the tournament concludes with the men’s singles final, in which the world’s top two players, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, will square off for the title.

Day 13 Recap

Apparently, Flavia Pennetta told herself going into the tournament that this would be the last Grand Slam of her career. The 33 year old veteran had always enjoyed playing at Flushing Meadows, and her best Grand Slam singles results had always been obtained in New York. In nothing short of a miracle, the twenty-sixth seed played her final Grand Slam match against her good friend and Federation Cup team-mate Roberta Vinci, collecting the win to finish her major career on the best possible note.

Vinci and Pennetta have known each other since before they were teenagers, and even won the French Open junior doubles title together way back in 1999. Now, as thirty-plus veterans in the twilight of their respective careers, the pair faced off in an all-Italian final at the US Open. Vinci had done Pennetta the biggest of favours, taking out top seed Serena Williams in the semi-finals, providing Pennetta with a golden opportunity to capture a major.

The first set saw the players trade a service break before the set progressed to a tiebreaker. Pennetta showed greater consistency in the tiebreaker, taking it 7 points to 4 to give herself a major advantage. Gaining confidence from the first set, Pennetta broke twice in the second set to give herself a commanding lead and a chance to taste victory before the looming showers started to drizzle the crowd. In keeping with Pennetta’s perfect day, it was only after winning match point to secure a 7-6(4) 6-2 victory that the heavens opened.

For Pennetta, it was the perfect end to a near-perfect tournament. The Italian will continue playing until the end of the year and, as she is now inside the world’s top 10, Pennetta has a very good chance of making the WTA Tour Finals at the end of the season. For Vinci, it was a sad way to end the best tournament of her singles career, but it was always going to be hard to back up her incredible win over Williams on Friday. The 32 year old tried valiantly and competed hard and, whilst she will be disappointed that she couldn’t claim the title, her jubilation for Pennetta’s triumph seemed earnest and heartfelt.

*****

Match of the Day – Day 14

Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic

To say that this match is a toss of the coin is to state the obvious. After 41 career meetings between the pair, Roger Federer holds the slightest of edges, leading 21-20 after his recent win in Cincinnati. Furthermore, only one spot separates the pair in the world rankings, with Djokovic a runway world number one and a rejuvenated Federer in second spot.

This is Federer’s first US Open final since 2009 and how things have changed in the interim. In 2009, Federer was going for an unprecedented sixth consecutive US Open title, only to squander a 2 sets to 1 lead against the up and coming Juan Martin Del Potro. Since then, Federer has won just one major whilst Del Potro has been besieged by wrist injuries and Djokovic has expanded his Grand Slam collection to include 9 major titles. Accordingly, it’s a massive understatement to say that Federer is desperate to win another Grand Slam.

Both players won their semi-finals in convincing fashion, which means that they should be fit and raring to go for this afternoon’s match. These players know each other’s games inside out, and each has so much experience that nerves will not be a factor. As Federer himself said, when he and Djokovic play it is usually a straight shootout – two talented players going head to head in a purely athletic contest.

What Federer means by this statement is that neither he nor Djokovic considers it necessary to substantially modify their game in response to the game of the other player. Instead, each player typically plays his standard game and the best player on the day comes out as the winner. Contrast this to Federer’s mind-set when playing Nadal, against whom he has always struggled. The Swiss star frequently finds it hard to balance risk and reward against Nadal and is usually forced out of his comfort zone in the baseline rallies.

So, for Federer, it’s a much better match-up against Djokovic than against Nadal, and I think the second seed will be quietly confident going into this match. Whilst he lost to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, Federer scored a good win over the Serb on hard-courts in the Cincinnati final. To my mind, the first set and a half is absolutely critical for Federer (and notably less so for Djokovic). If he gets off to a fast start, Federer is one of the greatest frontrunners in tennis (a fact Wawrinka was reminded of in their semi-final), building his confidence and becoming more and more aggressive on court. Djokovic is never out of a match until it’s over, but it’s a far bigger challenge for him to overcome Federer if the Swiss star claims the first set or two of the match.

This pair has had some terrific battles at Flushing Meadows over the years, including the infamous semi-final in 2011, when Djokovic swatted a return winner on Federer’s match point and ending up winning the match (and the tournament). I think this one will be incredibly close, but everything seems to point towards Federer’s renaissance being completed with a glorious win. I’ll take the second seed in a tight 5-setter. Federer in 5.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow to recap the men’s final. In the meantime, you can follow all of the action on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

Tom Cochrane

I like to work the angles around the tennis court. Not afraid to take the pace off the ball, I also have an affinity with the occasional cheeky drop shot.

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