Federer beats Murray, wins US Open

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/f/federerap.jpg' class='caption'> The Swiss who hadn't won a single Grand Slam this year coming into the championship, wanted nothing less than to cap the year with a title.

Updated: September 16, 2008 08:58 IST
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New York:

Back at his best, back at the top of tennis, Federer easily beat Britain's Andy Murray 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 on Monday to win his fifth consecutive U.S. Open championship and 13th major title overall.

"I felt like I was invincible for a while again," Federer said.

Federer is the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win this tournament five consecutive times. He also moved within one major championship of tying Pete Sampras' record 14 majors.

"One thing's for sure," said Federer, the only man in tennis history to win five consecutive titles at two of the Grand Slam tournaments, "I'm not going to stop at 13. That would be terrible."

Federer struggled living up to his unbeatable form this season. He lost in the semifinals at the Australian Open, and to nemesis Rafael Nadal of Spain in the finals of the French Open and Wimbledon, putting on the verge of his first year since 2002 without a major title. Plus, his record 4 1/2-year reign at No. 1 ended when Nadal surpassed him last month.

"I had a couple of tough Grand Slams this year ... so to take this one home is incredible," Federer said after stretching his U.S. Open winning streak to 34 matches. "It means the world to me."

The sixth-seeded Murray upset Nadal in the semifinals at Flushing Meadows to reach his first Grand Slam final, and Federer had no trouble this time - even though he had lost two of his previous three matches against the Scottish player.

"I came up against, in my opinion, the best player ever to play the game," said Murray, who was trying to give Britain its first men's major champion in 72 years. "He definitely set the record straight today."

Murray, 21, won the U.S. Open junior trophy in 2004, when Federer claimed his first U.S. Open title.

"I'm not as nervous any more, like in my first final," Federer said during a prematch TV interview.

Perhaps he was trying to plant doubt in Murray's head. The youngster was standing around the corner, waiting to walk out onto the court.

Federer was Murray's age when he played in his first Grand Slam final, back in 2003 at Wimbledon. Except Federer won that match against Mark Philippoussis, and has kept winning major championship matches against everyone except Nadal. Federer is 2-4 against the Spaniard in major finals, 11-0 against anyone else.

Federer accumulated a 36-16 advantage in winners and won the point on 31 of 44 trips to the net. His volleying might have been helped by his work winning a gold medal in doubles at the Beijing Olympics, a result he credited with boosting his confidence.

"Seeing him play like that made me very, very happy for him," said Federer's part-time coach, Jose Higueras, "because he's a great champion and he's gone through some rough times."

Murray - whose ATP ranking rises to No. 4 - stood about 10 feet (3 meters) behind the baseline to return serves, exactly the way he did against Nadal in their two-day, rain-interrupted semifinal. And Murray displayed flashes of the defense he used against Nadal, including one pretty flick of a lob by Federer with his back to the net.

But Federer, who might have benefited from an extra day to rest because his semifinal wasn't affected by Tropical Storm Hanna, was simply too much for Murray.

At only one juncture did Murray throw a scare into Federer, taking 11 of 12 points to go from 2-0 down in the second set to 2-all and love-40 on Federer's serve.

Federer saved the first break point, and on the second, a 14-stroke rally ended with Murray missing a backhand. TV replays, though, showed one of Federer's shots should have been called out - and had it been, Murray would have led 3-2.

"Not necessarily would have won the match or anything, but it would have given me a bit of confidence," Murray said.

But there was no call there, and no reprieve, because Federer stayed steady and held serve.

"That was key," Federer said. "After that, I began to play freely, the way I usually do."

In the next game, Murray began clutching at his right knee and looking up at his substantial support group in the stands, a gathering that included his mother, two coaches and two trainers.

Murray, though, said the knee had no bearing on the outcome.

"He made very few mistakes," Murray said. "The times I played him before, he had given me a few free points."

Federer closed the second set on a 10-stroke point. First, Federer extended the point with some superb court coverage, and then - shifting from defense to offense in a blink - he ended it with a forehand passing winner.

When Federer broke serve for the seventh time, ending the match, he rolled around with glee on the blue court. Instead of heading into the offseason wondering what went wrong, he can look ahead with optimism.

When the men met at the net, Murray felt compelled to share a thought with Federer.

"I told him that he had, you know, a phenomenal year," Murray said, "regardless of what anyone said."

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  • Tennis
  • David Ferrer
  • Novak Djokovic
  • Bernard Tomic
  • Rafael Nadal
  • Andy Murray
  • Stanislas Wawrinka
  • Roger Federer

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