New York:Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-4 on Sunday to win his fourth consecutive US Open championship and 12th Grand Slam title overall.
Federer became the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win four straight American championships, and he moved within two of Pete Sampras' career record of 14 major titles.
"I think about it a lot now," Federer said of Sampras' mark. "To come so close at my age is fantastic, and I hope to break it."
How many Slams can he win?
"I don't know," Federer said. "I hope more than Pete."
Djokovic was in his first Slam final, yet he led 6-5 in each of the opening two sets. In the first, the 20-year-old Serb held five set points. In the second, he held two.
"My next book is going to be called, 'Seven Set Points,'" Djokovic said, flashing the sense of humor he displayed while doing on-court impersonations of other players after his quarterfinal victory.
On a more serious note, the No. 3-seeded Djokovic said of Federer: "Once again, he showed he's the best."
In Djokovic, Federer was facing the only man to beat him over the past three months, but that was in early August at Montreal, not early September at New York, and in a Grand Slam tuneup, not the real deal.
So, not just talented with a racket but prescient, too, Federer pretty much predicted what would transpire. Shortly before walking out for Sunday's match, he said knowingly, "It'll be interesting to see how he handles the final."
Afterward, Federer spoke about having enjoyed getting another shot at Djokovic.
"New guys challenging me - this is my biggest motivation out there," Federer said. "Seeing them challenging me, and then beating them in the finals."
Federer was dressed for an evening on the town - all in black, from headwrap and wristband to socks and shoes, from shirt to shorts with tuxedo-like satin stripes down the sides - and he finished things under the lights by breaking Djokovic in the last game with the help of a no-look, over-the-shoulder volley winner.
Djokovic appeared out-of-breath midway through the first set, standing in place and beckoning a ballkid to bring him a towel so he could rest a bit after a 16-shot point.
Federer was hardly dominant, and when he double-faulted, then sprayed two forehands long, Djokovic had the first break of the match, going up 6-5. Perhaps thinking they'd be witnesses to an upset, many in the crowd got on their feet, clapping and screaming.
So Djokovic served for the first set and raced out to a 40-love edge.
But Federer hit a cross-court forehand winner that caught a line, and Djokovic missed two backhands. Then came a fourth set point, but Djokovic sent a forehand long.
Then a fifth, but Federer smacked a forehand return that landed right on the baseline and Djokovic's stab backhand went long.
After Djokovic missed yet another backhand to give Federer his first break point of the match, the Serb double-faulted.
That sent the set to a tiebreaker, where there was more of the same. Of Federer's seven points, two were courtesy of double-faults and two were from backhand errors by Djokovic.
Djokovic recovered quickly, taking 4-1 lead after only 15 minutes in the second set. Once more, Federer asserted himself, breaking back at love to get within 4-3. And when Federer served while trailing 6-5, Djokovic earned two set points.
Federer removed the first with a 203 kph ace, and Djokovic sent the set to duece with an errant forehand.
Again they went to a tiebreaker, and again Federer was better. When he ended it with a backhand passing winner down the line - placing the ball through the one, tiny opening there was - Federer skipped toward the sideline, screamed and punched the air.
Djokovic had one last opportunity to climb back into the match, getting to love-40 when Federer served at 2-2 in the third set. But Djokovic sailed a backhand return long, let a Federer forehand skim off the baseline to end a 15-stroke exchange, then put a backhand return in the net. That brought it to deuce, and Federer took the next two points to hold.