Roger Federer's game disappeared shortly after the first set began, and it did not return until it was too late to save him from quarterfinal defeat at the U.S. Open at the hands of Tomas Berdych.
Berdych advanced 7-6 (1), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, which marks Federer's earliest exit at Flushing Meadows in nine years.
Federer struggled with his serve all night, looked lost on service returns and was racking up out-of-character unforced errors. FedEx hit 40 unforced and just 63 percent of his first serves.
Berdych, who carried a first-serve average speed of 123 mph in this one, squeaked out the first set in a tie break as Federer began to fade after a strong start.
It was a surprising outcome, but it just felt like Federer, who was only slightly off, would get warmed up and take control in the second set.
Instead, things went the opposite direction. The 17-time Grand Slam champ began missing more, Berdych wasn't missing anything and the Czech native rolled to a second-set victory.
At this point, things were looking grim for Federer. However, considering he is the greatest tennis player of all time and the fact that Berdych was 52-1 when winning the first two sets—with the only loss coming to none other than Roger Federer—there was still hope for the Swiss legend.
And Federer reinforced that hope.
Berdych double-faulted to hand his opponent a break to pull even at three games apiece, and Federer seemed rejuvenated by the result.
He did not lose another game that set, but Federer could not carry that momentum into the fourth.
Berdych was flat-out the better player on this night. He was hitting chalk with blistering serves, and his groundstrokes were outstanding. Berdych is playing as well as he ever has, and has an excellent shot to pull off a surprise championship in the 2012 U.S. Open.
Roddick, who declared last Thursday that he would be retiring from tennis after this year's U.S. Open, is the last American male tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title. In fact, since his 2003 U.S. Open title, he and Andre Agassi are the only American male players to even appear in the finals of a Slam.
Roddick finishes with a 612-213 career record, including 32 singles titles and four doubles titles. He went 23-16 this season as the No. 22 player in the world.
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