Federer to face Djokovic in final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/r/rogerfederernew_ap.jpg' class='caption'> Roger Federer beat No 4 Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 6-1, 7-5 on Saturday to stretch his winning streak at Flushing Meadows to 26 matches.

Updated: September 10, 2007 15:15 IST
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New York:

Roger Federer moved within one victory of his fourth straight US Open title, beating No 4 Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 6-1, 7-5 on Saturday to stretch his winning streak at Flushing Meadows to 26 matches.

Federer, who will be seeking to become the first man to win four consecutive US championships since Bill Tilden in 1925, will face No 3 Novak Djokovic, who earlier on Saturday overcame the late summer heat and humidity of New York City to beat 15th-seeded David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

"I'm always very well-prepared for the majors. I know what it takes," Federer said. "When the second week comes around, I play my best."

In Sunday's championship match, Federer will face the only man to beat him over the past three months.

"I guess the best players of the summer are in the final," said Federer, all too aware that he lost to Djokovic at a hard-court event in Montreal in early August.

That was Djokovic's big breakthrough: He also beat Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick there, becoming the first man in 13 years to beat Nos 1-3 in the rankings at a single tournament.

Title hunt

While Djokovic will be aiming for his first major title, Federer will be trying to tie Roy Emerson for second in tennis history behind Pete Sampras' 14. The Swiss will be playing in his 10 consecutive Grand Slam final.

"I need to believe in myself, because otherwise I wouldn't get the positive outcome," Djokovic said. "I don't want to go out tomorrow and try to do my best or try to perform well. No, I'll go tomorrow to try to win."

With the temperature passed 30 degrees Celsius during his semifinal, Djokovic was too spent afterward to reprise the sort of act he performed after winning in the quarterfinals, when he drew guffaws by doing spot-on imitations of Maria Sharapova and Nadal.

"Last two days, the people were more congratulating me for the impressions than for my tennis," Djokovic said. "I was wondering, 'Guys, am I here for the impersonation, entertaining - or to play tennis?'"

The 20-year-old Djokovic is the youngest men's finalist at Flushing Meadows since Pete Sampras was 19 when he won the 1990 title. Djokovic is also the first man from Serbia to get to a major final.

There were moments early on when it looked as if Djokovic might actually face Davydenko, who came in with an 0-9 record against Federer in their previous meetings.

Receiving first

Davydenko - who expects to be questioned soon in connection with an ATP gambling probe - won the coin toss and elected to receive at the start, a rare sight.

Davydenko came in having won 50 per cent of his return games during the US Open, and he promptly broke Federer to begin the match.

Federer was broken a total of two times through five matches - and then five times by Davydenko.

In the opening set, 10 points lasted at least 10 strokes - and Davydenko won seven.

Davydenko went ahead 3-1 and was one point away from going up 4-1, but Federer saved a break point by ending an 11-stroke exchange with a backhand winner down the line.

Federer converted his fifth break point to even things at 3-all, getting back a 203 kph serve - Davydenko's fastest of the day - and then smacking a forehand winner.

When Federer served for the first set at 5-3, though, Davydenko saved one set point with a return winner, then broke with a cross-court forehand.

They appeared headed to a tiebreaker, but Federer broke back to end the set with an angled forehand volley. It was the first set lost by Davydenko all tournament.

In the third set, Davydenko twice held a set point but couldn't convert either, and as Federer won the last four games, he began punctuating shots with shouts of "Yes!" or "Come on!" when winners left his racket.

It all left Davydenko in a daze, and he said: "I don't know how it's possible," for Federer to come up with some of those strokes. In the earlier match, Djokovic seemed more bothered by the heat and humidity, seeking treatment from a doctor, draping a towel filled with ice around his neck, and donning a white baseball cap for shade.

"The conditions were extreme," Djokovic said. "It was so hot."

When the match ended with a beautiful volley by Djokovic, he dropped to his knees with arms raised, then got up and pulled off his shirt.

A sign of his exhaustion: Djokovic tried throwing the shirt into the stands, but it didn't quite reach the seats. Then he picked it up and heaved it again, underhanded, and this time was successful. In the player's guest box, Djokovic's dad followed suit, pulling off his shirt and encouraging others nearby to do the same.

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