Novak Djokovic was left to mull over missed opportunities after he lost 7-6, 7-5, 7-5 to the five-times champion Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the US Open late on Sunday night.
The fourth-seeded Serb led by a break in the first set and pushed world No 1 Federer, who met Juan Martin Del Potro in last night's final, hard in the second and third but was beaten in a highly competitive encounter.
"I had the feeling that I was close all three sets," Djokovic said. "It's just that when I get close, when I am able to get to the break points or I'm up a break, I just start making some unforced errors. And I don't want to mention the word luck, but I didn't have it today. That's why I'm a little bit disappointed."
After breaking Federer to lead 4-2 in the first set, Djokovic played a poor game to hand the break straight back. "That's exactly the game," he said. "I think that's the worst game I played all match. Who knows? If I was 5-2 up, a lot of things can change. If you win a set, it's a big advantage. You could get the confidence and the opponent starts being a little confused and gets out of the comfort zone."
Djokovic said he was proud of the way he competed with Federer in the second and third sets but was disappointed he could not take advantage of his chances. "I was trying to push myself and kind of wait for opportunities," he said. "When they have been given to me, I didn't use them. Again. That's what is a little bit disappointing. You're right there. You have to make an extra step, and you don't.
"But that's tennis. I have lost it. I had the opportunity and I didn't use it, so that's why I regret. But, you know, there are many more years to come."
Djokovic has slipped down a spot in the rankings since the start of the year but said he was concerned only with playing his best when it matters most. "I don't like to pay attention too much to the rankings, points up, down, dropping, winning," he said. "It's too confusing. So I just try to play my best tennis and [keep] this high quality of performance throughout the year."
Indo-Czech pair Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy won their second Grand Slam title of the year after lifting the men's doubles crown at the US Open.
Paes and Dlouhy were trailing by a set and break before they launched their fightback to beat the third seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The win made amends for their final defeat 12 months ago. "It's great to win it here finally because I was in the final for two years running and finally I win it here," said Dlouhy, who also reached the 2007 final with his previous partner, Pavel Vizner.
The fourth seeds won their first major together at Roland Garros. "This is the best year I've had on tour," said Paes, who was picking up his sixth men's doubles Grand Slam crown.