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Rediff.com  » Sports » Federer awaits opponent for delayed final

Federer awaits opponent for delayed final

September 07, 2008 07:34 IST

Roger Federer stormed into his fifth successive US Open final on Saturday but the rest of the day's play was washed out, tossing the last weekend of the Open into disarray.

Organisers were grilled about the scheduling as Federer, in sublime form with a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 win over Novak Djokovic, was made to wait 24 hours before knowing his challenger after the second semi-final was suspended by rain.

Sixth-seeded Briton Andy Murray was in the driver's seat to book a date with the Swiss maestro, leading top seed Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6, 2-3 when the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna hit Flushing Meadows.

The women's final, scheduled for Saturday night between twice champion Serena Williams and second seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia was postponed until Sunday night. The men's final has been slotted in for Monday.

Organisers came under fire after the elements conspired against them and Nadal and Murray were forced to abandon their match at 2:48 pm local time (1848 GMT).

"We were told we had a window through approximately five o'clock," tournament director Jim Curley told reporters.

"We made our decisions based on the in formation we had available from the weather service and our on-site meteorologist."

The Nadal-Murray tilt was shifted to adjacent Louis Armstrong court to run concurrently with Federer's match in hopes of completing both semi-finals. But it did not begin until one hour 40 minutes after Federer-Djokovic started.

Since the second men's semi-final could not be completed on day 13 of the hardcourt major, the tournament will now spill into a third Monday.

Nadal and Murray will resume on Sunday at 2000 GMT, and American Williams and Jankovic will joust for the women's crown five hours later.

Four-times champion Federer took advantage of his window of opportunity by producing his best performance of the tournament, hammering home 20 aces and ripping 51 winners in an emphatic two hour 45 minute victory over the third-seeded Serb.

The Swiss master, owner of 12 Grand Slam crowns yet thirsting for his first of 2008, said he was feeling more like his once-dominant self in his victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"I had moments out there where I really felt, this is how I normally play on hard court. Half volleys, passing shots, good serving, putting the pressure on," he said.

"I definitely had moments during today where I thought, this is how I would like to play every time. So it was a very nice feeling, actually, to get that feeling back."

Third-seeded Djokovic, the Australian Open champion who has complained of a catalogue of injuries during the tournament, seemed listless at the start.

"Roger was playing good," the 21-year-old Serb said. "He deserved to win, absolutely. I was just a little disappointed from my side that I wasn't physically able to challenge him."

PREFER RAFA

Federer remained on track to become the first man to win five successive Opens since Bill Tilden in 1924.

"Who do I prefer to play? I prefer the trophy, that's what I prefer," said Federer, deposed as world number one last month by Nadal after more than 4-1/2 years at the top spot.

"But I guess I would have to say Rafa because we've had such great battles over the year. Wimbledon was unbelievable so I hope we can have another one."

Federer's wish did not look likely to be granted as Murray belted his way to a two-sets advantage.

Nadal had not lost to the Scot in five previous meetings but the 21-year-old Briton was on song, displaying the form that had led him to three hard court titles this year.

Serving masterfully and dominating play from the baseline with his deeper groundstrokes, Murray swept through the first set in just over half an hour before clinching the second 7-5 in a tiebreak. Overall, he racked up 44 winners.

Nadal, however, broke Murray in the opening game of the third set to seize an early advantage as the Spaniard battled to reach his first final here.

The Majorcan was darling of the crowd at the cosier Armstrong arena, which once held centre court for the tournament before the towering Ashe Stadium opened in 1997.

At the start, the 10,000-seat Armstrong stadium was only one-quarter full for the Nadal-Murray tilt while the 23,000-seat Ashe stadium was packed full of fans.

After Federer clinched his final berth, spectators crowded in while others unable to get a seat lined the lip at the top row of Ashe to peer down on the second semi-final.