Pressure, and how you handle it is what always decides the big matches, especially a Grand Slam final.
Novak Djokovic barely let pressure get to him, bouncing it off his racquet time and again and throwing it back to his opponent. Roger Federer, though, could not handle it, when it mattered most, with unforced errors – he had 54 of those to go along with 56 winners -- and poor shot-choice causing him heartache and a chance at a sixth US Open title.
Djokovic and his near-unbelievable ability to just keep the ball alive, while staying consistent for the most part, proved to be the difference in the end as the Serbian notched his second US Open title, and the third Grand Slam of 2015, with victory over Federer.
Federer had everything going his way in this match – he served first all the time, the crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium was pulling for him, with some baying for Djokovic's blood, but errors, and plenty of them on his usually-so-powerful forehand let him down, with Djokovic winning the match 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in three hours and 20 minutes.
That time is a little misleading, because it probably makes you think this was an epic final, filled with some unbelievable strokes; but in reality, this was a match that neither player will look back at fondly in terms of quality, even if Djokovic will not want to forget it too easily, considering he won it in the end.
After a rain delay of three hours, the match finally started at 7 pm local time (4.30 am IST), and the first game, which last seven minutes, was a pointer towards what was to come – attritional tennis, with that hold-your-nerve quality set to be the most important.
Djokovic produced that quality better than Federer, breaking the Swiss great's serve in the third game, even if the 17-time Grand Slam champion broke right back to level the opening set at 2-2.
However, Djokovic has this unerring ability to play the right shot at the right time, and in the seventh game, he did just that, helped, no doubt, by Federer's errors, to find another break for a 4-3 lead. The world number one would then close out the set at 6-4, with the momentum firmly on his side.
However, Federer is not the greatest men's tennis player to play the game for nothing, and he kept the pressure on the Djokovic serve time and again – Federer had 23 break points in all, but he converted just four of them – with the Serbian eventually caving in in the 12th game to hand Federer the set and parity in the match.
The third set went back and forth with both players breaking their opponent's serve early, but Federer will look back at this set and wonder just how it got away. He had so many chances, and not just the break points, but those 0-30s, those deuces, those just-keep -the-ball -in-and-you-can-have-the-game-moments; and pretty much every single time, Federer failed to take advantage.
Credit must also go to Djokovic, of course, because it is that one-more-ball-is-coming-back-at-you-style that forced Federer to go for the lines all the time, but still, this was a match that Federer should have really won, had he been on the top of his game; had that forehand been working like a dream; had that serve and volley caused the kind of trepidation it did for his opponents all through the tournament.
Djokovic got the decisive break in the third set in game number nine, and after holding his serve to take it 6-4, the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion broke Federer in the first game of the fourth set to push Federer into quicksand.
The sinking feeling probably came right after his third set loss, but once that serve was dropped in game one, it was curtains for the 34-year-old, with Djokovic going from strength to strength, breaking the Federer serve a second time for a 5-2 lead.
Federer refused to let the sand pull him down without a fight, though, and he broke back immediately to get one back, before holding his serve comfortably enough to make it 5-4.
Serving out for the match, let alone the championship, is never easy, but there is nobody better at doing just that than Djokovic. With the crowd completely against him, imploring Federer to break back again, Djokovic saved three break points, before closing out the set and the match to win the tenth Grand Slam of his soon-to-be-legendary career.