NEW YORK (AFP) — Top-ranked Roger Federer's only obstacle to a 12th Grand Slam title and a fourth consecutive US Open crown is a Slam finals debutante who is not awed by the Swiss shot-maker and says his time has come.
Serbian third seed Novak Djokovic will try to dethrone Federer in Sunday's championship match at Arthur Ashe Stadium after beating the world number one in August's Montreal final. Djokovic says that he is ready at 20 to win a Slam.
"I think I'm ready and I need to be ready. I need to think like this. I need to believe in myself or else I wouldn't get the positive outcome. I don't want to go out and try to do my best or try to perform well. No, I will try to win.
"I'm going to try to believe in the victory. The win over Roger in Montreal will help me, that's for sure," Djokovic said.
Federer has shocked even himself by extending his own record run with a trip to his 10th consecutive Slam final.
"I'm surprised myself too after all," Federer said. "I'm always very well prepared for the majors. I know what it takes."
A Federer victory would move him two shy of matching the career Slam record of 14 won by Pete Sampras and equal Roy Emerson for second on the all-time list, moving beyond legends Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver.
A fourth consecutive US Open crown for Federer would be the longest such streak since Bill Tilden's title run from 1920 through 1925 and it would give Federer three Slam titles in a year for the third time in four years.
"We all know how Federer is playing and he's basically unbeatable," Djokovic said. "I'm going to try to be myself, be aggressive, try to be in control of the match, which is going to be difficult, and just believe in the victory."
Federer is in his record 188th week atop the rankings and won his 50th career title in Cincinnati last month in his final US Open tuneup event.
Federer would like to think his historic numbers come into play in matches, but isn't counting on it against Djokovic.
"I hope they do. We will see how it goes," he said. "I'm feeling well. That's the main thing. I know how to play him. I hope I can just do what I do best and hopefully win."
Federer, 26, will try for his fifth victory in six matches against the youngest US Open finalist since Sampras won at age 19 in 1990.
"I can only be impressed by his performances. At this young age, I never did results like this," Federer said. "He has had a great run, really improved his game. He has done a great job the last six months to a year now.
"He has been playing fantastic tennis. It's definitely going to be exciting."
A victory over Djokovic would give Federer the longest Open Era win streak at the US Open, breaking the mark of 27 matches won by Ivan Lendl from the 1985 US Open to the 1988 semi-finals.
The last time Federer lost a US Open match was a fourth-round defeat in the 2003 US Open at the hands of Argentina's David Nalbandian.
The last time Federer lost at all was when Djokovic beat third-ranked Andy Roddick, number two Rafael Nadal and Federer at Montreal, becoming the first man since Boris Becker in 1994 at Stockholm to sweep the top trio in one event.
"I always learn something new from the matches against him," Djokovic said of Federer. "I lost four times but I put away the negative thoughts.
"In the past four matches. I was just trying to prove to the people that I'm playing good tennis, that I'm talented. In Montreal, I tried to win."
A victory Sunday would be worth 2.4 million dollars to Federer, thanks to a one million-dollar bonus for the best overall showing in US Open tuneup events.
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