Even with all the times Roger Federer held the US Open trophy, he still can’t forget the time it slipped through his fingers.
He had won five titles in a row in Flushing Meadows and was a game away from a sixth in 2009 when Juan Martin del Potro pulled out a fourth-set tiebreaker, then won the fifth set.
“I still wish I could have played that match again,” Federer said Friday.
He’s never been that close to winning the US Open since, just once reaching the final.
That would have been hard to imagine then, when Federer would steamroll into New York at the tail end of some of the greatest seasons in tennis history. He was 247-15 from 2004-06, and knew he’d figure things out across seven matches on the hard courts in a city where he is so comfortable.
“For a long period I think I was not losing much,” Federer said, “and when I came to the Open, I had all the answers for all the guys, all my opponents, all conditions, wind, you know, night, day. I really embraced everything about New York.”
Still does, which is why - at age 37, and a full decade removed from his last title at the place - Federer believes he can succeed again at the year’s final Grand Slam tournament and collect a male-record 21st major when main-draw play begins Monday. A sixth US Open title would break a tie with Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras for the most in the professional era.
“Well, I mean, it would mean the world to me,” he said.
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