Djokovic wary of rejuvenated Federer

Stan Wawrinka says fellow Swiss Roger Federer (above, during their US Open semi-final) is playing some of his best tennis.
Stan Wawrinka says fellow Swiss Roger Federer (above, during their US Open semi-final) is playing some of his best tennis.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • The women's final at the US Open became an all-Italian match-up that very few people had dared to predict.

The men's showdown, however, is a more predictable encounter of heavyweights.

It is No. 1 Novak Djokovic v No. 2 Roger Federer, two of the best players in tennis history who have been on a two-week collision course that will be settled today.

Djokovic hammered No. 9 Marin Cilic, 6-0, 6-1, 6-2, in one semi-final on Friday. Federer beat his Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka, the No. 5 seed, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in the other .

  • RESULTS

  • US Open

    Men's singles s-finals

    Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt Marin Cilic (Cro) 6-0 6-1 6-2, Roger Federer (Sui) bt Stan Wawrinka (Sui) 6-4 6-3 6-1.

  • Women's singles s-finals

    Roberta Vinci (Ita) bt Serena Williams (USA) 2-6 6-4 6-4, Flavia Pennetta (Ita) bt Simona Halep (Rom) 6-1 6-3.

  • Mixed doubles final

    Leander Paes (Ind)/Martina Hingis (Sui) bt Sam Querrey (USA)/Bethanie Mattek- Sands (USA) 6-4 3-6 10-7.

"I think it's just a straight shootout," Federer said.

"I think that's the cool thing about our rivalry. It's very athletic."

It will be their 42nd meeting, with Federer holding a 21-20 lead, including a victory in the last encounter in Cincinnati on hard courts after Djokovic had won the previous three clashes.

Djokovic beat Federer at Wimbledon. They have played five times at the US Open, with the Swiss winning the first three and his opponent the last two.

Federer has won 28 sets in a row at the US Open this year.

He is serving extremely well, playing very aggressively and having as much fun as ever.

Even at 34, he has added a new element to his game, the SABR (sneak attack by Roger), in which he comes to the service line on his opponent's second serve and takes the ball on a half-volley.

He did it a handful of times against Wawrinka and used it last month in a tie-breaker against Djokovic in Cincinnati.

The Serb did not want to comment on it then, nor did he seem very pleased when asked about the potential of seeing it again today.

"He tried that in Cincinnati," Djokovic said. "It worked a couple of times. It's an exciting shot for him. For the player on the opposite side of the net, not so much. So, I have nothing else to say about that."

Federer said he planned to use it against Djokovic, depending on the situation. And he dismissed allegations that it is not proper etiquette, or a sign of disrespect towards his opponent's serve.

"No, it's not disrespectful," the Swiss insisted. "Pretty simple."

Djokovic will be playing in his sixth US Open final, having been champion in 2011, and his 18th in all Grand Slams.

Today's meeting will be the pair's sixth of the year, all in finals.

Had it not been for Wawrinka playing the match of his life in June to defeat Djokovic and claim the French Open title, the Serb could have been pondering history today with a calendar-year Grand Slam.

"We all know how consistent Roger is and how good he is in the latter stages of Grand Slams and any other big tournament," said Djokovic.

"He's always going to perform at a high level.

"I know that he's also lately been very aggressive coming to the net, mixing up and trying to shorten out the points. I think also he improved his speed. His defensive game is better than it was. Maybe healthier."

Wawrinka, having lost for the 17th time against his compatriot, believes Federer is playing some of his best tennis. "If he keeps this level, he's going to be tough to beat," said Wawrinka.

NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2015, with the headline 'Djokovic wary of rejuvenated Federer'. Print Edition | Subscribe