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Djokovic and Stosur triumph at the US Open

Novak Djokovic wins the US Open in 2011.
by Alexandra Willis
Tuesday 13 September 2011

And so it continues. If there was any doubt that Novak Djokovic's extraordinary year would not carry on in the same vein during the two weeks of the US Open at Flushing Meadows, players, pundits, and the public were sharply reminded that it would by the man himself.

"I still have things left to prove to myself, to the tennis world," the world No.1 said after defeating Rafael Nadal in a high-quality epic that was the first showdown between a No.1 and No.2 in New York since Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi in 1995.

The Serb had been the 'he just couldn't, could he?' pick for many fans ahead of the year's fourth and final Grand Slam, with many feeling that his extraordinary run of form, that saw him arrive in the Big Apple with just two losses to his name this year, would have to catch up with him eventually. But still, despite that, few were happy to count him out. In fact, many were perfectly content to install him as the favourite.

And so it was that the 2011 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, having saved two match points against Roger Federer in the semi-finals, progressed into a second straight Grand Slam final against Rafael Nadal, who had overcome a valiant challenge from Andy Murray. The fourth consecutive men's final to be held on the third Monday of the tournament, it was a brutal, intense physical battle that exhibited both the jaw-dropping shot-making abilities of both men, set against a backdrop of physiological excellence, and topped off by the unfailing mental resolve of two great champions.

With rallies extending up to 31 strokes, and one game early in the second set lasting 17 minutes, there was speculation the match could head into a fifth set, and rival the great 2008 Wimbledon final between Nadal and Roger Federer. But although Nadal had rallied to win the 84-minute third set, he had no answer to the sheer belief coursing through Djokovic's every move, the Serb coasting through the fourth set in half the time to take his fourth Grand Slam title.

In beating Nadal in a sixth consecutive final this year, narrowing the gap in their head-to-head to 16-13 in the Spaniard's favour, Djokovic became only the sixth man in the Open era to win three of the four Grand Slams in a calendar year, behind Nadal (2010), Roger Federer (2007, 2006, 2004), Mats Wilander (1988), Jimmy Connors (1974) and Rod Laver (the calendar Grand Slam in 1969).

Much as Djokovic was the form player in the men's draw, Serena Williams's march to the final was as emphatic. Producing displays of enduring quality and power, exemplified by her straight sets win over Victoria Azarenka, the only person standing in Serena's way of a 14 Grand Slam singles title was Samantha Stosur.

With just two career titles to her name to Serena's 39, the softly spoken Australian was the heaviest of underdogs. But perhaps, unlike in the 2010 French Open final where she was the pick to beat Francesca Schiavone, that favoured her. Beating Serena at her own game, Stosur showed that power can fight power, delivering a forehand winner, the same shot as Djokovic in fact, to win her first Grand Slam crown, 6-2, 6-3.

The first Australian woman to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong triumphed at Wimbledon in 1980, it was a richly deserved win for the Queenslander, who clambered up into her box, assisted by a security guard or two, to celebrate with her team.

“To go out and play the way I did is an unbelievable feeling,” Stosur said.

For full results and reports from Flushing Meadows, visit the official 2011 US Open website

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20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...

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