Djokovic, angered by opponent Roddick, defeats him at US Open

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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NEW YORK - Novak Djokovic heard what Andy Roddick said about him and didn't like it one bit.
Still, as much motivation as Djokovic might have derived, and as well as he played in their U.S. Open quarter-final Thursday night, Roddick's own uncharacteristic serving miscues had a lot to do with the 2003 champion's 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) loss.
After working his way back from a huge deficit, Roddick was two points from forcing a fifth set at 5-4, 30-love in the fourth. But he double-faulted twice in a row and was broken for the fifth time - twice more than he lost serve in his first four matches combined.
"You know what? I honestly don't feel like they were super-tight doubles," Roddick said. "I had been playing pretty high-risk, high-reward tennis to get back and I probably wasn't about to stop."
But the first question Roddick was asked had to do with his verbal squabble with Djokovic, who took offence at comments the American made about how ill and injured the Serb was after the previous round. Both men sought to smooth things over in their news conferences.
"It was completely meant in jest," Roddick said, pausing to choose the right words. "I should know better. But listen, I joke all the time. I don't think anyone in their right mind takes me serious."
In Djokovic's prior match, a five-set ordeal Tuesday against No. 15 Tommy Robredo, the reigning Australian Open champion called for the trainer more than once as he dealt with hip, ankle, stomach and breathing issues.
Asked then about Djokovic's problems, Roddick kidded around, checking whether the list shouldn't also include bird flu, anthrax, SARS and a common cold and said: "He's either quick to call a trainer or he's the most courageous guy of all time."
What seemed to rile Djokovic the most was what Roddick said in an on-court interview that day: "I've got to feel good. He's got about 16 injuries right now."
After beating Roddick, ending the match with a 201 kilometres per hour serve that drew a long return, Djokovic made reference to those words.
"That's not nice, anyhow, to say in front of this crowd that I have 16 injuries and that I'm faking," Djokovic said during a post-match interview that drew boos from the spectators in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"They're already against me, because they think I'm faking everything."
Later, the players spoke privately - and said they would keep the conversation private. Both were contrite afterward.
"He made a joke and it was a misunderstanding, so I don't blame it on him," Djokovic said, after getting nearly an hour to consider his on-court statements. "Maybe I exaggerated and reacted bad in that moment. I apologize."
The third-seeded Djokovic advanced to a semifinal meeting against Roger Federer. It's a rematch of last year's U.S. Open final, which Federer won for his fourth consecutive title at Flushing Meadows.
Federer - bidding for a 13th major title, one shy of Pete Sampras' record - beat qualifier Gilles Muller 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (5) Thursday, extending his own record by reaching the semifinals at an 18th consecutive Grand Slam tournament.
Djokovic is 2-6 against Federer and called him the "absolute favourite," but also noted: "It's a bit strange, though, to see No. 2 next to his name."
No. 1 Rafael Nadal will face No. 6 Andy Murray in the other semifinal.
The men's semifinals and women's final are all scheduled for Saturday, but tournament organizers have seen forecasts calling for about 12 hours of rain and stiff winds that day. So they began the process of negotiating with TV networks and preparing contingency plans, including weighing the possibility of announcing Friday that no tennis would be played Saturday, and that the men's final would be shifted from Sunday to Monday.
"Physically I've been struggling in this tournament so any extra day of relaxation and just recovery would be good for me, of course," said Djokovic, who also defended his practice of calling for trainers, pointing out it's within the rules.
In the women's semifinals Friday, two-time champion Serena Williams faces Dinara Safina, and Jelena Jankovic meets Elena Dementieva. One of the four will move up to No. 1 in the rankings after the tournament.

Organizations: U.S. Open

Geographic location: NEW YORK, Arthur Ashe Stadium

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