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Sporting Insights on the US Open


London, UK -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/27/2012 -- The Swiss maestro saw off Novak Djokovic 6-0 7-6 to win a record fifth Cincinnati title and improve his head-to-head record against his Serbian rival to 16-12. The 31-year-old also equalled Rafael Nadal’s record of 21 Masters Series triumphs and ensured he will still be world number one after the US Open no matter what happens next week.

Federer, along with Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors, holds the record for most US Open titles in the Open era with five, having won successive tournaments from 2004-08. His successful run was ended by Juan Martin del Potro in the 2009 final and since then he has failed to reach a decider.

With Rafael Nadal out with an injury, defending champion Djokovic will be even more popular on the win index but there have been signs recently the 25-year-old is feeling the effects of a brilliant last 12 months. Aside from Federer’s domination in the noughties, you have to go back to Pat Rafter (1997-98) for a player who has successfully retained the US Open.

There is an argument that, after producing his best tennis to destroy Federer in the Olympic final, Andy Murray should be favourite for the Flushing Meadows showpiece, but the Scotsman was below-par when dropping out tamely in Cincinnati. 1936 remains the last time there was a British men’s singles Grand Slam champion and Murray will be attempting to go one better than his own final defeat in 2008 and compatriot Greg Rusedski, who was a beaten finalist in 1997.

Del Potro has returned to some sort of form after an enforced absence from the game with a serious injury and captured a bronze medal at London 2012. The Argentinean returns to the scene of his greatest career win but has still looked at a level far shorter than that which propelled him to his only Grand Slam so far, in New York three years ago.

Since 2003 every winner has either been top seed or has defeated the top seed on their way to glory. All have come from the top six seeded players. Pete Sampras, a four time winner at the time, was seeded 17th for his last victory in 2002. Andre Agassi in 1994 is the only unseeded player to have won the tournament.

America has been responsible for a whopping 19 winners of the championships held since the Open era, well ahead of Australia who are next with six but the home challenge looks weak this year and Andy Roddick in 2003 was the last home winner.

Half of the last ten finals have all gone to four sets with one going the distance. Six finals have featured tie-breaks and overall 22% of sets in finals from the last decade have been tie-breaks. The US Open is the only Grand Slam that allows tie-breaks in the deciding sets – the other three all require a two game winning advantage – but interestingly there has never been a five set match decided this way in Open history.

Jim Courier (1991) and Lleyton Hewitt (2004) share the unwelcome distinction of winning the fewest games in a final, just six, in the last 20 years. Since the US Open introduced the tie-break system in 1970, Bjorn Borg is the finalist to have won the most games in a final, 25, without lifting the trophy. That’s enough to win four straight sets!

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