NEW YORK -- Novak Djokovic has made a career out of raising the bar in tennis. In his 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 quarterfinal victory over Juan Martin del Potro, he taught us that even sweeps -- yes, sweeps -- can be played at a terrifically high level:
This exchange was more than the point of the match. It was the point of the fortnight. And it came during a thrilling tiebreaker that elevated the quality of play to its highest point yet this tournament. This must sound like blasphemy coming on the heels of the sterling five-set quarterfinal between David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic, which set the previous standard with its ferocious rallies. But Djokovic and del Potro didn't just hit hard; they hit long. The pivotal tiebreaker set lasted 84 minutes -- 11 longer than Djokovic's first-round victory. That frantic penultimate point, which went for 20 strokes, was just one of many that seemed as if they'd go on forever -- which is almost as long as it will remain in our collective imagination.
The box score will remember this match as a straight set defeat for del Potro when, really, the match was far tighter. Furthermore, it's one that del Potro lost on effort, not because of injury. Yes, he falls to 1-10 in matches against players ranked in the top three, but it won't be long before he's bursting through that door again.
Djokovic thinks he was
Still, that's not to say that Ferrer is weak. Anything but. "He is one of the biggest competitors we have in the game," Djokovic said. "People do not, I think, talk [about him] too much. They overlook him. You need to earn your points against him."
Ferrer, on the other hand, may have to steal his to have a chance.