Djokovic's gamble pays off in remarkable comeback

Serb sinks Federer after recovering from two match points down

Flushing Meadows

History repeated itself in extraordinary fashion here last night as Novak Djokovic once again saved two match points before beating Roger Federer in a five-set epic in the US Open semi-finals. Twelve months after coming from two sets to one down to beat the Swiss at the same stage of the tournament, Djokovic went one better, recovering after losing the first two sets to triumph 6-7 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5.

The two men have met in the semi-finals of four of the last five Grand Slam tournaments and Djokovic's only defeat was at the French Open, a result that ended his 43-match winning run. Once again they produced a match of the highest quality, striking the ball with breath-taking power and precision.

Djokovic, who will play the winner of last night's meeting between Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal in tomorrow's final, is enjoying one of the most remarkable years in tennis history. The 24-year-old Serb has lost only two of his 65 matches during a season in which he has already won nine titles, including the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

"It was definitely my biggest win of this year, one of the biggest wins of my career under the circumstances," Djokovic said afterwards. "I was two sets down, Roger was in control and playing better, but then I switched gears and I managed to play much better in the last three sets."

Before Wimbledon, Federer had never lost from two sets up in 178 matches in Grand Slam tournaments, but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga recovered to beat him at the All England Club and now Djokovic has handed out the same treatment here. This isthe first year since 2002 that the 30-year-old Swiss has not won a Grand Slam title.

For two sets, nevertheless, Federer had looked back to his best. The Swiss played an excellent first set tie-break and broke twice in the second set to take command. Djokovic, however, started to strike the ball more freely in the third set and it was not long before the world No 1 had levelled the match.

Federer recovered well in the decider and broke to lead 5-3 when Djokovic played his worst service game. The Swiss had his two match points when serving at 40-15 in the next game, but Djokovic hit a huge forehand return winner on the first and on the second a Federer forehand hit the top of the net.

When Federer went on to serve a double fault on break point the momentum had switched decisively. Two games later Djokovic broke again, securing the game with an inside-out forehand winner after a wonderful rally in which the Serb had cleverly manoeuvred himself into a position of strength.

Djokovic, who has lost in both of his previous appearances in the final here, to Federer in 2007 and to Nadal last year, made no mistake when serving out for victory, converting his first match point after three hours and 51 minutes when Federer put a backhand return long.

Asked about his stunning return on the first match point, Djokovic said: "If it goes in, it goes in. It's a risk. Last year it was a very similar situation – he was two match points up and I was hitting a forehand just as hard as I could. You're gambling: if it's out, you lose and if it's in, maybe you have a chance."

Oliver Golding will this afternoon become the first Briton to play in the final of the boys' event here since Murray won the title in 2004. The 17-year-old from Richmond beat a fellow Briton, George Morgan, 6-0, 7-6 in the semi-finals. Three Britons made the last four, but Kyle Edmund lost 6-4, 6-2 to the Czech Republic's Jiri Vesely, who is the top seed and world junior No 1.

Golding said: "I've been in a couple of [grand slam] doubles finals before and one singles semi so it's great to get to my first final."

Vesely is Golding's regular doubles partner and the pair reached the final here last year and at Wimbledon in July but surprisingly they have never played a competitive singles match.

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions