NEW YORK - -Roger Federer is 5 inches shorter than Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer is 8 years older than del Potro.
But the 6-foot-1 inch, 28-year-old Federer has 15 major championship titles. He is in his 21st Grand Slam tournament final. He is in his 17th major final in his last 18 attempts. And today Federer might become the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win six straight U.S. Open championships.
The top-seeded Federer beat the fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic, 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5, Sunday in the second men's semifinal. In the first, the sixth-seeded del Potro conquered the wounded Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. Nadal, seeded third, has been dealing with a strained abdominal muscle and could not withstand del Potro's power.
But del Potro, a 20-year-old Argentine, would probably be well-advised to not watch highlights of Federer's artistic and athletic semifinal triumph.
On the second-to-last point of the match, Federer hit what he called the best shot of his life. Djokovic was serving and seemingly in control of the point, standing at the net and watching for his just-hit lob to land out of Federer's reach. Except Federer materialized at the baseline just when the lob landed. With his back to the net, Federer hit a winner from between his legs. The crowd roared and Federer's forehand return winner that followed on match point was anticlimactic.
- Diane Pucin, Tribune Newspapers