Flashback US Open: Roger Federer matches Mats Wilander's achievement

by   |  VIEW 2924

Flashback US Open: Roger Federer matches Mats Wilander's achievement

After winning his first Major crown at Wimbledon 2003, Roger Federer was ready to conquer the entire tennis world in the following season, winning 74 out of 80 matches in 2004 and claiming 11 ATP titles. Following his triumph at the Australian Open, Roger became world no.

1 and would stay there for four and a half years until Rafael Nadal finally passed him in August 2008. Federer won Halle, Wimbledon, Gstaad and Toronto that summer, becoming the first player since Bjorn Borg with three consecutive titles on three different surfaces before losing in the early stages of Cincinnati and the Olympic Games in Athens.

Roger was back at his best in New York, prevailing against Andre Agassi in a great quarter-final clash before dominating in the last two rounds to lift his first US Open crown and become the first player since Mats Wilander in 1988 with three Major titles in a season!

On September 12, Federer defeated a former champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-0, 7-6, 6-0 in an hour and 49 minutes in what had been one of the strangest scorelines in Major finals ever! Namely, for the first time since 1884, a player lost the US Open final after suffering two bagels, with Roger as the dominant figure in the first and third sets, becoming the first player who celebrated in the first four Major finals he entered!

Lleyton had an 8-5 advantage in the head to head meetings before this encounter, but Roger already had the upper hand over a former world no. 1, scoring the last three wins before another excellent performance in this final.

Hewitt was in good form, losing the Cincinnati final to Agassi and winning 16 straight matches (23 completed sets) before the final clash with Roger. Also, he defeated all six rivals in New York in straight sets after a favorable draw and no one could have predicted he would lose the final so quickly.

In 2004, Roger Federer scored two bagels vs. Lleyton Hewitt in the US Open final.

Both players struggled to find the first serve (55%) and Roger drew the most from his initial shot, winning 78% of the points on his first serve and repelling five out of six break points to keep the pressure on the other side of the net.

A champion from 2001 and one of the most consistent players at the US Open in the last couple of seasons couldn't find the rhythm in his service games, facing 13 break chances in 12 different games and getting broken seven times.

Federer had 23 service winners and an additional 18 from his forehand. At the same time, Hewitt's groundstrokes stayed in the locker room, unable to move Federer from the comfort zone or take advantage in the rallies. Roger had a clear lead in the shortest points up to four strokes and was in front in both the mid-range and the most extended exchanges to dominate from start to finish.

The first set was over in 18 minutes, and it was one-way traffic all the time, with Federer taking mind-blowing 24 out of 29 points, including the last 12 for the fourth bagel he served to Lleyton that season after the Australian Open, Hamburg, and Wimbledon!

After some 30 minutes, Roger had a 6-0 2-0 lead, and this was the most impressive start in the Major finals in the Open era, eclipsing a former champion in every department to march towards the title. The Swiss couldn't keep the same pace in the rest of the set, though, making 20 errors and saving a break chance in game six after firing three aces in a row.

Hewitt stayed in touch when he fended off three break points in game seven, breaking back at 4-5 when Roger served for the set after saving three set points. The Aussie converted his fourth opportunity, and this game alone lasted just five minutes shorter than the entire first set!

Federer stayed focused and won the tie break 7-3, bringing the set home in 68 minutes and gathering momentum before the third set. It was all about Roger there, clinching it 6-0 after 25 minutes and sealing the deal with a forehand winner to lift his fourth Major crown, the first out of five consecutive in New York.