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Federer not ready to bow down after 5th straight crown in NYC

Federer not ready to bow down after 5th straight crown in NYC

Posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 3:42 pm
By: By BEN WALKER, AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Roger Federer owns a dazzling array of shots, a keen court sense and a winning disposition.
He’s also got a pretty good set of ears. And he could hear what the tennis world was saying about him: At 27, his reign at the top was over.
“I was aware of it,” he said.
Whatever, that version of the vulnerable Federer was nowhere to be seen at center court Monday. Instead, the Roger of old returned, overwhelming Andy Murray 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 to win his fifth straight U.S. Open championship and 13th Grand Slam title.
“I felt like I was invincible for a while again,” Federer said.
Federer won his first major title of the year, breezing through three sets without a double-fault and leading 36-16 in winners. He earned nearly half his points at net, a skill he honed while winning the Olympic gold medal in doubles.
When Murray’s final shot landed in the net, Federer fell to his knees on the blue court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I always knew that if I were to get one Slam under my belt, especially the last one, things weren’t looking that bad, like everybody was talking about,” he said.
Because, for sure, people were talking. His reaction to all that jabbering?
“Sometimes, to a point, a bit annoyed because all sorts of crazy people started writing me and trying to reach me, telling me I need some help either mentally or physically,” he said. “You’re laughing, but it’s the way it goes. People come out of the closet and think they can start helping me now. It’s just a pain.
“For me, this sort of puts them to rest a little bit and calms down the phones at my parents’ a little bit, which I’m happy about,” the Swiss ace said.
While Federer enjoyed a glass of champagne with family and friends inside the locker room, his dad wandered out.
“Maybe you can’t win everything,” proud pop Robert said. “After the French Open, you could see many (negative) comments saying, ‘Federer is gone,’ ‘Federer will never win another Grand Slam.’ And Federer proved the opposite.”
Federer won’t leave New York with the No. 1 ranking — after 41/2 years on top, he lost that to Rafael Nadal — but the No. 2 seed sure enjoyed getting the silver trophy, the $1.5 million winner’s check and a new Lexus.
All in all, a nice way to end a season that Federer began with a bout of mononucleosis.
The sixth-seeded Murray went into his first Grand Slam final with a 2-1 lifetime record against the champ. But trying to become the first British man to win the U.S. Open since Fred Perry in 1936, he never had a chance.
“I came up against, in my opinion, the best player ever to play the game,” Murray said. “He definitely set the record straight today.”
The 21-year-old Scotsman paid tribute to Federer when they met at the net.
“He told me that it was a great tournament for me. I said that I agreed with everyone that he’d had a terrible year,” Murray kidded.
“Making the semis of Australia, final of the French, the final at Wimbledon — playing one of the best matches of all-time — winning a gold medal, and obviously winning the U.S. Open,” he said. “I told him that he had a phenomenal year, regardless of what anyone said.”
Federer became the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win this tournament so many times in a row. He’s now within one major title of matching Pete Sampras’ career record of 14.
“One thing’s for sure,” Federer said, “I’m not going to stop at 13. That would be terrible.”
This win also made Federer the only man in tennis history to take five straight titles at two major tournaments.
“It’s nice to compare five U.S. Opens to five Wimbledons. Not many — nobody can do that,” he said.
Murray was the fifth different opponent Federer had played in the finals at Flushing Meadows during his run. The former U.S. Open junior champion won the opening coin toss and, based on his previous success, chose to let Federer serve first.
Federer won the first game by taking four straight points.
Murray’s best chance to stay in the match came in the second set with score tied at 2. Down 15-40, Federer hit a shot that looked long, but Murray kept it in play and wound up losing the point.
Murray walked to the spot to see if there was a mark, having lost his chance to call for an instant-replay challenge. Too bad, too, because a television replay showed the ball was out.
Instead of being up 3-2 and serving, Murray watched Federer rally back to win the game.
“That was key,” Federer said. “After that, I began to play freely, the way I usually do.”
By the third set, it was no contest as Federer went up 5-0. Murray won two games and a couple more ovations from the crowd, then it was soon over.
“I don’t understand redemption quite that well, but I don’t think that’s what it is. I don’t feel like I needed this win particularly to prove myself,” Federer said.
“It’s just being happy to be on top,” he said. “So things are not looking that bad like everybody’s talking about.”


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