When Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer resumed their rain-delayed U.S. Open men’s semifinal match Sunday, Ferrer might have thought a different player showed up to play him.
Ferrer dominated Saturday’s set, adapting to the swirling, gusting winds and wining five of seven games against the number two-ranked Serb.
When play resumed Sunday morning, Djokovic used the first game as a warm-up—he gave the game and set to his fifth-ranked Spanish opponent so he could start anew.
Once he got started, Djokovic showed his talents in full, returning almost every serve, covering the court with ease and blasting winners from every angle to end long rallies.
Ferrer never gave up on even a point; he showed great mobility and a strong fighting spirit, but his rival had all that plus better speed and power. The second set was tougher than the 6–1 score would indicate, but it was still a 6–1 win.
Djokovic, facing a potential final match against Andy Murray without a day’s rest, plainly wanted to dispatch Ferrer as quickly as possible; Ferrer chose not to cooperate. The 30-year-old Spaniard fought back to tie the third set at three games each as the lanky Serb let up a bit, possibly thinking he had the match in hand.
Djokovic got serious in a hurry, breaking back in the next game and consolidating the break with four great serves and two good volleys—six shots to hold at love, which he did a few more times to win the set.
Seemingly fully awake now, the 25-year-old Serb rolled through the final set in 31 minutes; with all his weapons working, Djokovic was way too much for Ferrer to handle.
Monday’s Final will be a test for both players. Djokovic will be playing without a day’s rest, but he wasn’t pushed hard Saturday and Sunday’s match only lasted two-and-a-half hours, though several of the rallies went to 25 strokes or more.
Djojkovic will want the win, not just for itself but as part of his quest to regain world number-one ranking.
Andy Murray will once again be playing for his own first Grand Slam win and the first for Great Britain in 76 years—no pressure there. Murray showed great mental toughness in his semifinal match against Tomas Berdych, and the 25-year-old Brit has had a day to relax and work out a bit. Murray couldn’t ask for more favorable conditions.
Murray has more on the line; if he can cope with the pressure, he should have more motivation. If Novak Djokovic the Tennis Machine (six aces and no double faults, 28 winners to 20 errors on Sunday) shows up, Murray will need every bit of that motivation.