Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Federer loses cool, then final match at U.S. Open

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NEW YORK -- Normally so cool, so consistent, so in control of his emotions and his matches, Roger Federer let the U.S. Open championship slip from his grasp.

Two points from victory against inexperienced, unheralded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, two points from a sixth consecutive title at Flushing Meadows and a record-extending 16th Grand Slam overall, Federer, quite simply, fell apart Monday.

He railed at the chair umpire. His legs grew weary. His double-faults mounted. He could not figure out a way to stop the 6-foot-6 del Potro from pounding forehand after forehand past him. In a result as surprising for who lost as how it happened, the sixth-seeded del Potro came back to win his first Grand Slam title by upsetting the No. 1-seeded Federer 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

"Maybe I look back and have some regrets about it," said Federer, never before beaten by anyone other than Rafael Nadal in a major final. "But, you know, you can't have them all and can't always play your best."

He had won 40 consecutive matches at Flushing Meadows. He had won 33 of his previous 34 Grand Slam matches. And he has made the final at 17 of the past 18 Grand Slam tournaments, 21 overall.

Del Potro? This was the 20-year-old's first Grand Slam final, and he was 0-6 against Federer until now. But after handing Rafael Nadal the most lopsided loss of his Grand Slam career in the semifinals Sunday, del Potro came back the next day and rattled Federer.

Somehow, del Potro never seemed intimidated by the man many consider the greatest tennis player in history.

Federer argued with chair umpire Jake Garner during a changeover, swearing and saying, "Don't tell me to be quiet, OK? When I want to talk, I talk."

He also got steamed while up a set and serving at 5-4 in the second. Del Potro tried a forehand passing shot that was called wide, but he challenged, and the replay system showed he was right. Federer kept glancing at the mark the shot left on the blue court, even into the next game, and del Potro wound up stealing the set.

"That one cost me the match, eventually," Federer said.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 15, 2009 C5

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