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Shaking Up Tennis at the U.S. Open

Serena Williams wins women's singles championship; Andy Murray defeats Rafael Nadal to reach men's final

By Dante A. Ciampaglia | null null , null
Serena Williams holds up her championship trophy after defeating Jelena Jankovic, of Serbia to win the women's championship match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, September 7, 2008. (Photo: ©Julie Jacobson/AP Images)
Serena Williams holds up her championship trophy after defeating Jelena Jankovic, of Serbia to win the women's championship match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, September 7, 2008. (Photo: ©Julie Jacobson/AP Images)

Update: Roger Federer won his fifth consecutive U.S. Open Monday night when he defeated Andy Murray in three sets, 6-2 7-5 6-2.

Federer's victory gives him 13 Grand Slam titles, one off from Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam wins. More importantly for Federer, he won his first Grand Slam this year in the last Grand Slam tournament of the year.

"I would have been disappointed losing today," Federer said. "You fell you missed an entire year, being so close yet so far, because semis and finals don't help me a whole lot anymore in my career. That's why this is huge -- this is massive, really."

Murray came into Monday's final having defeated the No. 1 ranked Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. He hoped to play giant killer again in outplaying Federer, perhaps the best tennis player in the world. It wasn't to be.

"I came up against, in my opinion, the best player to ever play the game," Murray said. "I got the better of him the last two times we played. He definitely set the record straight today."

Five years in the life of a professional athlete can be an eternity. That's how long it has been since Serena Williams lost her ranking as the No. 1 women's tennis player in the world.

But on Sunday, at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, the 26-year-old Williams regained her place on top of the tennis world by defeating Jelena Jankovic in the U.S. Open women's singles final. Williams defeated her opponent in straight sets, 6-4 7-5.

"It is that special because I've been working so hard," Williams said after match. "And I wasn't even going for number one. . . .it's just like an added bonus. I'm so excited."

Williams was a little more than excited when she clinched her first U.S. Open championship in six years and her ninth Grand Slam victory. After winning match point, Williams threw her racket into the air, screamed, and jumped around the court in wild celebration.Realizing that she maybe got a little carried away, she said to Jankovic, "I'm sorry I got so excited" when they met at the net.

From the start, it was clear that Williams was out to regain dominance. On the first point Sunday, Williams put so much power into her backhand that one of her earrings fell off.

The rest of the match was a display of power, drive, and determination. Jankovic had her opportunities to take the final to a third set. During the second set, with Williams serving, Jankovic was leading 5-3 and up love-40.

"I felt I had her," Jankovic said. "I had her, because she was really tired at the end of the second set. Who knows what would have happened if I had got into a third set? I probably would have had the upper hand. But who knows?"

In the end, Williams wasn't going to be denied. She fought back and won the next four games to capture the championship.

"No one really, really knows the work that an athlete puts in," Williams said. "I've been working so hard all year. Sometimes I'd wake up at, like, six in the morning to go to practice and it was too dark, I would have to wait until it gets light."

"You know, it's worth it," she continued. "It's been so long, it's kind of weird. It was magical, everything coming together. I feel so young and energized."

Men's Singles Championship Monday

The U.S. Open ends Monday at 5 p.m. with a men's final few expected.

After this year's epic Wimbledon men's final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, most people expected round two at the U.S. Open. But someone forgot to tell that to Andy Murray, who defeated Nadal in the semifinals in a two-day, rain-delayed, four-set match.

Like many other tennis fans, Federer seemed disappointed with this turn of events.

"I mean, I'd like to play Andy as well, but obviously he hasn't been as good as Rafa for the past years, you know," Federer said Saturday. "But I'm sure he'll be, you know, at the top of the game for a very long time, because I always thought Andy has incredible talent."

Murray has defeated Federer twice in three matches, but this encounter is different. Federer is going for his 13th Grand Slam championship. Murray is playing in his first Grand Slam final.

"He's got loads of experience in these situations, and it's something new for me," Murray said. "I know I'm going to have to play great to have a chance of winning, but I've played well the last couple of weeks."

Facing arguably the best tennis player in the world over the last five years in a Grand Slam final is a tough task. But Murray will also be taking on Federer at a moment when Federer's playing with something to prove after his loss at Wimbledon.

Murray will be carrying the weight of the United Kingdom on his shoulders. He's trying to become the first British man to win the U.S. Open since Fred Perry did it in 1936.

Murray doesn't seem fazed by the tough task before him, though.

"I played well enough to beat the number one player in the world over two days, and I've beaten Roger in the past," Murray said.


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