After cruising through the opening four rounds of the 2014 US Open, it appeared as though Roger Federer would pay the ultimate price for having gone relatively unchallenged leading up to his quarterfinal date with Gael Monfils.
The talented Frenchman managed to not only jump out to a two sets to love lead but did so in such a manner that was frustrating the seventeen-time Grand Slam winner. While Federer was far from his best during the early stages of the match, as he struggled to find his range on what was an extremely blustery evening at Flushing Meadows, Monfils was in the zone and growing more confident by the minute.
Despite all of that, Mr. Federer found a way to stay alive long enough to right the ship and look his opponent start to lose his grip on what would have been the biggest win of his career. In what truly felt like nothing more than a blink-of-an-eye, the No. 2 seed turned a two set deficit into a 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 victory to advance to Saturday’s semi-final versus Marin Cilic.
It was a tough finish for the twenty-eight year old, who played arguably the finest performance we have ever seen from him on this sort of stage. He dictated terms for much of the match and had Roger second guessing himself throughout the opening couple of sets. Monfils had a pair of match points in the fourth with Federer serving at 4-5 but was unable to convert, leaving the door open for the thirty-three year old former No.1 player in the world to pull off yet another come from behind victory at a major.
After wasting that opportunity, Monfils became unglued and promptly donated a service break following a pair of ill-timed double faults and from that moment on, the Frenchman simply had nothing left to give. His spirit was broken and he knew he had missed his chance. All the while, Federer grew in confidence and took his game up a notch or two over the final set. As badly as one felt in looking Monfils unravel, it was a joy to look the Swiss Maestro steal another victory with such elegance and grace.
The victory marked the ninth time in Federer’s brilliant career in which he had fought back from being down two sets to win in a Grand Slam and it almost seemed fitting it happened on Arthur Ashe Stadium. While it has now been nearly six years since Roger last won this event, one could argue there is no place in which fans adore him more than in New York. He is without question the most beloved player the game has produced in ages, perhaps even ever, but there is just that little something when it comes to Roger and the fans at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.