Novak Djokovic Becomes US Open Favorite After Exhilarating Quarterfinal Victory

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot during his men's singles quarterfinal match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on Day Eleven of the 2012 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

In one of the more thrilling straight-set victories in recent memory, No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic defeated No. 7 seed Juan Martin del Potro 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 to advance to the 2012 U.S. Open semifinals.

Despite a rather standard scoresheet, the tennis world will come away from Thursday night's match talking about the captivating second set. Down 5-3 to del Potro and seemingly on the brink of a marathon match, Djokovic came roaring back.

Before a raucous sellout crowd at Flushing Meadows, the 25-year-old Serb won the next three games, growing more animated seemingly with every victorious point.

Though del Potro came back and tied the second set up at 6-6, it took him nearly 15 minutes to do so and usurped all of his remaining energy. 

Djokovic went on to dominate the tiebreak and skated through a third set that seemed like little more than a formality to take home a quarterfinal victory. 

The victory for Djokovic sets up a semifinal contest with fourth seed David Ferrer. The Spaniard needed five sets to take down Janko Tipsarevic in an epic match that lasted four hours and 31 minutes, leaving many to wonder whether he'll have anything left in the tank Saturday.

Nevertheless, the long-term story here is just as much about what Djokovic leaves behind as what lies ahead.

There is no denying that the Serb is the overwhelming favorite heading into this weekend's series of matches. But it's how big of a favorite he is at Flushing Meadows that is truly astounding.

Roger Federer's quarterfinal loss to Tomas Berdych essentially leaves an empty bracket facing Djokovic this weekend.

Don't get me wrong, Ferrer, Berdych and Andy Murray are all fantastic players and deserve recognition for getting this far.

However, none has tasted the glory of a major championship. They are not rivals on the level of Federer and Rafael Nadal, the latter of which sat out at Flushing Meadows due to injury.

And with Federer closing in on 32 years old and Nadal battling a myriad of injuries, this weekend could be a preview of what lies ahead for tennis. 

More than anything, Djoker needs to find a rival this weekend. Facing the prohibitive favorite with nothing to lose, one of his opponents must step up and give the 25-year-old a true scare.

Otherwise, the next few years could consist of one dominant Serbian force taking the tennis world by storm while everyone else plays for second place on a weekly basis. 

Djokovic is the favorite this weekend, but it's what a U.S. Open championship could signify that means even more.