Tue, Sep 14, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Rained out final gives Djokovic rest

AP, NEW YORK

A rainout at the US Open postponed Sunday’s Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal final and gave Djokovic the reprieve he wanted after his grueling, five-set semi-final victory over Roger Federer.

After No. 3 Djokovic’s win on Saturday — three hours, 34 minutes of exhausting tennis — he was told about the possibility of rain pushing back the final.

“I don’t know the rituals; how to invite the rain,” he said. “An extra day would be great.”

He started warming up about 90 minutes before his match was supposed to start, but shortly after, rain started spitting on Flushing Meadows. It picked up from there and tournament officials waited a few hours before deciding to call it a day, meaning the men’s final was to be decided yesterday for the third straight year.

“It was such an uncertain forecast that we felt the right thing to do for the players — and certainly for the fans — was to postpone the remaining matches until tomorrow,” US Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said.

Nadal, of course, gets an extra day of rest, too, though he may not have needed it.

His semi-final was a straight-sets win over Mikhail Youzhny that lasted only two hours, 13 minutes. Nadal hasn’t lost a set in the tournament. Playing in his first US Open final, the Spaniard is seeking to become the seventh man to own at least one singles title at each of tennis’ four more prestigious tournaments.

If he wins, Nadal will head to the Australian Open in January with a chance to complete the “Rafa Slam” — four major titles in a row.

The steady rain came on what was supposed to be the last day of a tournament that was threatened by Hurricane Earl during the first week, then hammered by persistent winds the second. In all, though, there was only a single, 25-minute delay over the first 13 days.

Then came Sunday. Another rainout. Another day of rest at the tournament that’s considered the biggest grind of all the Grand Slams because it’s the only one that schedules semi-finals and finals on back-to-back days.

While the men were warming up, the women’s doubles final was halted in progress, with Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova three points from victory at 5-4 in the third set against Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova. With a thin mist falling, tournament referee Brian Earley and tournament director Brian Curley went on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court to check the conditions, determined the courts were too slick and sent the players to the dressing room.

The doubles final was scheduled to resume yesterday, meaning the women would come back, warm up and, if Huber and Petrova get off to a good start, might only end up playing three points.

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