New York: World number one Novak Djokovic saved two match points as he climbed out of a two-set hole to beat five-time champion Roger Federer on Saturday to reach the US Open final.
The top-seeded Serb, who had also saved two match points en route to a semifinal win over Federer at Flushing Meadows last year, triumphed 6-7 (7/9), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.
He avenged his loss at the hands of the Swiss legend in the French Open semifinals, a defeat which ended his 43-match winning run.
Federer had appeared poised for victory after breaking Djokovic to love for a 5-3 lead in the fifth set -- Djokovic`s untimely double fault giving Federer triple break point in that game.
But when the Swiss great mustered double match point, Djokovic threw caution to the wind, pouncing on a 108 mile per hour Federer serve and belting the return back for a winner.
"If it comes in, it comes in," Djokovic said of his strategy at that point. "It`s a risk. Last year, I was in a very similar situation. He was two match points up. I was hitting a forehand as hard as I can.
"You`re gambling. If it`s out, you lose. If it`s in, maybe you have a chance. I got lucky today."
Federer was clearly stung to be derailed by a "lucky shot".
"That`s why we all watch sports, isn`t it? Because we don`t know the outcome and everybody has a chance, and until the very moment it can still turn," he said.
"That`s what we love about the sport, but it`s also very cruel and tough sometimes. It got me today."
Djokovic saved another match point when a Federer forehand clipped the net cord and went out.
Two games later, Djokovic punctuated two long rallies with forehand winners to break for 6-5 and Federer was finished.
"It was definitely the biggest win of this year, one of the biggest wins of the career under the circumstances," Djokovic said. "Roger was in control, playing better.
"I switched gears and played much better over three sets."
The defeat in the final Grand Slam of the year means Federer`s streak of consecutive seasons with at least one major title ends at eight. He claimed the last of his record 16 Grand Slam crowns at the 2010 Australian Open.
Djokovic, who will face either defending champion Rafael Nadal or world number four Andy Murray in Monday`s final, has a chance to add a third Grand Slam title to the Australian Open and Wimbledon trophies he has lifted in a spectacular season that has seen him win 63 of his 65 matches.
Djokovic and Federer came out firing after an 80-minute rain delay, neither facing a break point in the opening set.
Djokovic blinked first, his double fault giving Federer a commanding 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker.
But it took five set points before Federer could take the frame, with a backhand that Djokovic could barely get a racquet on.
After they traded breaks in the third and sixth game of the second, Federer broke a dejected-looking Djokovic to love to lead 4-3 and appeared firmly in control with a two-sets-to-love lead.
Djokovic was energized by a break for 2-0 in the third set, a game in which Federer squandered three game points then saved two break points before Djokovic induced him to hit a forehand into the net.
It was the only opening Djokovic needed. Suddenly Federer was looking all of his 30 years. He never had a chance to break back and surrendered the set seven games later when he shanked a backhand.
Djokovic looked even more dominant in the fourth, breaking Federer in the first and fifth games and racing through his first three service games without surrendering a point.
He still needed six set points to close it out, Federer saving two as he held serve for 5-2 to force Djokovic to serve it out and set the stage for the see-saw battle in the fifth.
"You have to figure that Novak was going to get his teeth into the match at one stage," Federer said.
"Everything I did today I thought was the right way. He just played really well in the third and the fourth."
We're building him (RvP) up now because of the World Cup. It’s a pity but we have to or he’ll never be fit.
Louis van Gaal