US Open 2005: Roger Federer conqueres the first "blue" US Open


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US Open 2005: Roger Federer conqueres the first "blue" US Open

Back in 2005, the organizers of the US Open had decided to change the color surface from green to blue but there was nothing new on the court itself, with Roger Federer defending the title he won 12 months ago to lift his sixth Grand Slam crown at the age of 24.

Just like in 2005, the Swiss was far ahead of everyone else on the Tour, claiming 11 titles and winning 81 matches out of 85 he played. Marat Safin, Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal were the only players who had beaten Roger earlier that season and he was the main favorite in New York, winning 29 of the last 30 matches and going all the way at the US Open as well.

Roger needed just 63 minutes to demolish Ivo Minar in the opening round and he had to work much harder against the magician Fabrice Santoro whom he ousted in three tight sets. Nicolas Kiefer took one set from Roger and the Swiss had to work really hard in the semis, prevailing against the last year's finalist Lleyton Hewitt in just under three hours.

In the final, Federer had met Andre Agassi, the oldest US Open finalist since Ken Rosewall in 1974, making one last push in order to win the home Major for the first time since 1999. In their 11th and last meeting, Roger defeated the American 6-3 2-6 7-6 6-1 in two hours and 19 minutes for his eights straight win over Andre and the fourth in 2005, all on hard courts. Serving at 76%, Federer blasted 44 service winners and he dominated with his forehand to control the pace in the rallies and keep the pressure on his rival, especially in sets one and four.

Andre scored three breaks from six opportunities but that wasn't enough for a more positive result as he lost 44% of the points in his games, facing no less than 18 break points and losing in four sets despite saving impressive 14 of those.

The American stayed in front only in the longer rallies but it was a slim lead that wasn't enough to keep him in contention for longer. Roger was the dominant figure in shortest and mid-range exchanges and despite some struggle in sets two and three his win was never in doubt after winning that tie break.

Both players were off to a good start and we had to wait until the sixth game to see the first break of serve, with Roger moving 4-2 ahead when Agassi netted a backhand. Three service winners pushed the Swiss 5-2 in front and he wasted three set points on the return in the following game, allowing Andre to win five points in a row and reduce the deficit to 5-3.

Federer had troubles to finish the ninth game as well, squandering another four set points before finally converting the eighth with an ace for a 6-3 after 34 minutes. The American raised his level in the second set and he earned a break in game two with a forehand return winner, fending off three break points in the following game to confirm the break and move 3-0 ahead.

A rare volley winner sent Agassi 4-1 ahead and he hit a service winner to stay in front after game seven as well, forcing Roger to serve for staying in the set. It as the worst set that Swiss had played during the entire week and he lost serve once again to hand the set to his rival after some 30 minutes, with a lot of work to be done if he wanted to gain the momentum and take the lead again.

Agassi had found the zone on his serve and he converted the third break point in the sixth game of the third set to forge a 4-2 lead, returning well and taking the timing off Roger's shots. In a manner of a true champion, Federer broke back in the very next game with a backhand winner and the momentum was now on his side, creating a break point in game 11 that could have grabbed the set earlier for him.

Andre saved it with an amazing forehand down the line winner and he had to do the same with three more break chances, bringing the game home with two winners for a 6-5. Federer was the better player in the tie break, moving 4-1 ahead after two errors from Agassi and creating five set points with a service winner.

A backhand return winner completed a perfect breaker for Roger and he was now a huge favorite to cross the finish line first in the fourth set. Agassi was losing ground rapidly and his shots were not there to challenge Roger anymore, getting broken in the second game after a forehand down the line winner from the Swiss.

Another winner from Federer pushed him 4-0 in front and the trophy was firmly in his hands after firing four winners in game five, moving a game away from the triumph. The American saved two match points in the sixth game to avoid a complete disaster but that was all he could do, as Federer sealed the deal with four winners in game seven to celebrate the second US Open crown and the best possible title defense.

After losing serve in the third set, Roger sailed through the last seven service games and Andre was unable to follow that pace and prolong the match, competing in his last Grand Slam final in a career. ALSO READ: McEnroe: 'Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest players ever. He is back!'