For a second successive Grand Slam, the world’s top two players will grace the final of the men’s draw.
No.1 seed Novak Djokovic has reached a magnificent fourth major final of the season and has got his ticket for a 18th career Grand Slam final.
On the other side of the net will be familiar foe Roger Federer. The tennis talisman and world No.2 has now won 28 straight sets.
Winning five matches to lift the Cincinnati trophy last month, Federer defeated Djokovic 7-6(2), 6-3 in the final and has since sauntered through six rounds at Flushing Meadows.
It’s the final the seedings drew and it’s the box office final that will cap off the Grand Slam season in sensational style. Federer leads the head-to-head 21-20, this is a showdown too close to call.
Swift Swiss express
17-time Grand Slam champion Federer had the mighty challenge of defeating his close friend and countryman Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals on Friday night.
The world No.2 was 11-0 on hard courts against the current French Open champion however Wawrinka held four match points in their most recent encounter on this surface, falling 4-6 7-5 7-6(6) in the 2014 ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Federer continues to defy his age, at 34 years old and 34 days the five-time US Open champion is the oldest Grand Slam semi-finalist since Jonas Bjorkman at Wimbledon in 2006.
His mini-renaissance is a sight to behold, his crisp hitting and attacking outlook has launched him back into true contention for Grand Slam titles.
Wawrinka on the other hand is an established player in the upper echelons of the game and was set to provide Federer with a stern test of his title credentials.
At 1-1 Federer unleashed his ‘SABR’, which stands for ‘sneaky attack by Roger’, to then coax three errors out of Wawrinka to take an early break.
The Swiss No.1 had to discover his serving instantly to fend off a three break points from his Davis Cup team-mate. A sumptuous backhand down the line and an ace consolidated his lead for 4-2.
Federer maintained that advantage to lead 6-4 by dictating with his forehand and but on a serving masterclass to hit four consecutive aces to steamroll a hold for 1-1 in the second set.
A mid-air forehand down the line return winner had Wawrinka applauding Federer at 2-2. Wawrinka clung on to save five break points with Federer displaying a mesmerising array of shots.
Federer, last a champion in New York in 2008, kept the pressure up with rapid service games and grasped the crucial break to lead 4-3 when Wawrinka hit a smattering of errors under pressure from pin point net play hit by Federer.
The 34-year-old strolled to complete a 6-3 set and managed to maintain his serene standard by wielding perfectly executed serve and volley.
A battle of the backhands ensued and a red-hot Federer prevailed to set up break point and a misguided Wawrinka forehand had the writing on the wall at 3-1 Federer.
Wawrinka failed to conjure up a challenge to Federer and succumbed to a 6-1 third set to send his countryman into a first US Open final since 2009.
“I’m obviously very happy, it’s been a great tournament so far. I’ve tried so hard to get back into a final here,” said Federer.
Having won 28 consecutive sets, Federer added: “I’m definitely at a very good level, maybe my best. I’m serving really well, I’m playing positive tennis. I would love for it to all work one more time this year on Sunday.”
It will be the sixth meeting in a final this year against Djokovic, “He’s had another tremendous year and there is always a lot on the line when we play in finals. He’s been the best mover on a hard court for a while now, he doesn’t give you anything,” said Federer. “I like that challenge and I’ll be ready for it.”
Djokovic demolishes Cilic
World No.1 continued his relentless consistency to sweep aside defending champion Marin Cilic in just 85 minutes.
The Croatian, hampered by an ankle injury sustained on court last week, was unable to withstand the barrage of shots that flung across from Djokovic’s racket.
Djokovic already possessed a 13-0 record against the ninth seed but broke at the first opportunity to race 3-0 ahead.
A perfectly executed backhand winner down the line illustrated the supreme confidence Djokovic was playing with and Cilic was particularly struggling on serve to limp to an opening 6-0 set.
Djokovic was 181-7 in Grand Slams when winning the first set, the odds were heavily stacked in his favour.
More pounding groundstrokes from the 2011 champion saw Cilic misfire on a clutch of shots to rapidly fall 3-1 down.
Within a flash the Serb was two-sets up at 6-0, 6-1 and a break up 1-0 on the hour mark.
A momentary lapse of concentration from the top seed enabled a demoralised Cilic to break back for 2-2 but that was the highlight for the reigning champion.
The world No.1 hit an outrageous drop shot winner having chased down a Cilic drop to ignite a run of four straight games and progress into Sunday’s showpiece.
“Obviously it felt great to be able to perform as well as I did today at this stage of a tournament, again, knowing that Marin carried that injury for last couple of matches,” said the Serb.
“ I didn’t allow that fact to distract me too much. I just wanted to concentrate on what I needed to do on the court and come out with the right intensity, make him move, get as many, you know, returns back in play. All in all, it was from my side a very solid match, and I take that as a confidence booster for the final.”
The 2011 champion is determined to lift the trophy on Sunday but is aware of the task in hand, “I came here with a wish and a mission, as well, to reach the finals and fight for the trophy. So I got myself in that position,” added Djokovic. “It’s already a great result. But I want to get that final step on Sunday and get my hands on that trophy. Obviously I’m not the only one who wants that. Another Swiss player will be on opposite side of the net. We will definitely want to have the same, the same kind of mission.”