Top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia and second seed Roger Federer of Switzerland will square off for the 42nd time in their career in the final of the US Open on Sunday.
Djokovic, the 2011 US Open champion, is contesting his sixth final in New York, where victory will give him his 10th major title, while Federer is contesting his seventh final at Flushing Meadows and his first since 2009. A win would give the Swiss a record 18th major, a sixth US Open title, and his first Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2012. It would also make him the oldest US Open champion since 35-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1970.
Federer leads the head-to-head of the ATP’s second-most contested rivalry — the first being between Rafael Nadal and Djokovic at 44 matches played — by 21-20. Djokovic leads 7-6 at the majors and has won the pair’s last two Grand Slam finals. But at Flushing Meadows, the Swiss and the Serb’s rivalry requires a chapter unto itself.
Sunday’s clash will be the pair’s sixth meeting at the Open and first championship match since 2007. Federer leads 3-2, but the Serb claimed victory the last two times in New York. Arguably their most memorable encounter was in the 2011 semifinals, a match in which Djokovic hit a blind, no-look forehand return down match point to claim a famous victory from two sets down.
In addition to Djokovic-Stan Wawrinka, Federer-Djokovic has been among the more competitive, enjoyable rivalries in recent seasons. Part of the reason for this is that, unlike Nadal-Djokovic or Djokovic-Andy Murray encounters, Djokovic-Federer involves more of a contrast in playing styles, in a way that isn’t unlike, say, Federer-Nadal.
Federer seems to agree. “I don’t know how it is for him [Djokovic], but I feel like he doesn’t need to adjust his game as much, either. I think it’s just a straight shootout, and I think that’s the cool thing about our rivalry. It’s very athletic,” said Federer ahead of his 27th major final.