Djokovic dispels doubts with gritty run at U.S. Open
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A brilliant run at the U.S. Open ended in defeat on Monday for Novak Djokovic, who managed to take consolation in his return to top form and the way he showed his heart by battling to the end.
"I cannot hide the disappointment," the 23-year-old Serb told reporters after falling 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 to world number one Rafa Nadal of Spain in the rain-delayed men's singles final at Flushing Meadows. "It's just I'm not gonna cry or complain about that. It's just the way it is."
Djokovic has battled questions in the past about his grit after retiring from matches due to heat exhaustion, difficulty breathing, blisters and cramps.
He has twice retired against Nadal in grand slams, waving the white flag during the quarter-finals of the 2006 French Open after losing the first two sets, and again during the 2007 semi-finals at Wimbledon.
As reigning Australian Open champion in 2009, he retired from his quarter-final with Andy Roddick because of cramping.
Djokovic, however, dispelled any doubts about his heart with his run over the past two weeks, which included a five-set comeback over compatriot Viktor Troicki in the first round, and another come-from-behind five-set victory over five-times Open winner Roger Federer in the semi-finals.
Djokovic dismissed two match points to fend off Federer, tapping his heart with his racket after reaching back to rifle two forehand winners to stay alive.
His victory denied Federer a trip to his seventh successive U.S. Open final and allowed the Serb to leapfrog the Swiss as world number two. Continued...