Djokovic plays pantomime villain to cap great season

Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:13am EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic probably felt like he was battling against 20,001 people in the U.S. Open final on Sunday, with grand slam king Roger Federer on the other side of the net backed by an Arthur Ashe Stadium full of his opponent's closest friends.

As the match reached its gripping climax, they cheered every point Federer won and celebrated Djokovic's errors as the Serb dug deep to eke out a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-4 triumph.

There may have been a time when Djokovic would have been unsettled by his treatment but the world number one swallowed any resentment and maintained his composure until he found himself kissing the silver trophy for his 10 grand slam.

"I can't sit here and criticize the crowd," said Djokovic, who crowned a brilliant season in which he won three grand slams events and was runner-up in the fourth at Roland Garros.

"On the contrary, I think it's logical to expect that a great player and a champion like Roger has the majority of the support anywhere I play him.

"He absolutely deserves to have the support he does because of all the years and success that he had and the way he carries himself on and off the court. No question about it."

While Federer reached exalted status with his collection of an all-time record 17 grand slam titles, Djokovic is now the player dominating the men's game.

He has won nine slams in the last five years, collecting the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles in 2011 just as he has this year, and has held down the number one ranking in four of the past five seasons.   Continued...

Novak Djokovic follows the flight of his ball as he returns to Roger Federer during their men's singles final match at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, September 13, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz