Heading into the second semi-final on today's Super Saturday of the US Open, most people figured it was just one last men's match until the epic Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer final the next day. Instead, someone 'supposedly' named Novak Djokovic played the match of his life and prevented that from happening.
In previous matches with Federer deep at the US Open, Djokovic played some tight sets against the Maestro, but never really showed any signs of being able to win the match. So while this match was expected to be competitive, most people thought Roger would again. find a way to get through it pretty comfortably.
So after going from up a break in the first set to losing it 5-7, so typical of their matches, it appeared like Roger was well on his way. Then after Federer broke him serving at 5-6 in the third set to take a two sets to one lead, there was no way Novak was going to advance to his third major final.
After Federer's serve and level of play picked up early in the deciding fifth set, surely he was going to find a way to get to his seventh consecutive US Open final. His extreme dipping of play in the second and fourth sets was something we had never seen before, but he seemed to have put it all behind him.
When Novak could not break Federer's serve at 3-3 in a marathon game, you thought here we go again, he is going to let this slip by. That fear became even more evident when he got down 15-40 serving at 4-5, giving the Swiss Maestro two match points.
That was the point in the match when it really became clear that a different Novak Djokovic was out there competing. He played two incredible points to get that game back to deuce, held on, and then broke Federer the next game. He then saved a break point serving at 6-5 and closed out one of the biggest wins of his career when a Federer forehand sailed wide.
The only time Djokovic beat Federer at a grand slam was in the 2008 Australian Open semis when Federer was clearly limited with mononucleosis. I never thought he would beat the 16-time grand slam champion when he was at full strength, but he really came out today and won the match.
Federer really wasn't at his best throughout the first four sets, especially on his serve as he was getting less than 50% of his first serves in. But the quality of both players in the fifth set was maybe the best we've seen this season, making it even all the more remarkable that Djokovic was able to pull it out. I felt like I was watching a completely different Novak than I had ever seen before seeing him deliver shot after shot and eventually knocking out the king.
Also when you think about the fact that in the first round, the Serb was down two sets to one and a break against fellow countryman Victor Troicki, this run to the finals is really amazing. He likes being able to fly under the radar, and even as the No. 3 seed here he was able to since everyone was obsessing about an epic final between Nadal and Federer.