The 2008 US Open was a tennis tournament played on outdoor hard courts. It was the 127th edition of the US Open, and the fourth and last Grand Slam event of the year. It took place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York City, New York, United States, from August 25 through September 8, 2008.
The men's defending champion, Roger Federer, won the US Open for a fifth consecutive time, whereas Justine Henin, the women's defending champion, had not returned to defend her title due to her retirement from tennis earlier in the year.
Seeds progressing on the first day of play included David Ferrer, Andy Murray, David Nalbandian, Stanislas Wawrinka, Gilles Simon, Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Gael Monfils. Recent Olympic gold medalist, and new World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who acknowledged that he was suffering from fatigue post-match, advanced after being tested by qualifier Bjorn Phau; Juan Martin del Potro, who entered the Open on a run of nineteen consecutive wins, beat fellow Argentine Guillermo Canas; and Americans James Blake (the number eight seed) and Donald Young treated the home crowd to a match spanning five sets, in one of the scheduled night matches, with Blake emerging as the victor. Juan Monaco and Feliciano Lopez were the only seeds who failed to progress.
In the women's competition, Jelena Jankovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Marion Bartoli, Victoria Azarenka, Patty Schnyder, Caroline Wozniacki, Francesca Schiavone, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Katarina Srebotnik, and Sybille Bammer all made safe passage in to the second round. Nadal's Olympic counterpart, Elena Dementieva, made hard work of her win against Akgul Amanmuradova, and former champion Lindsay Davenport, playing the US Open for the first time since her return to the sport from a break due to motherhood, beat recent Bank of the West Classic winner Aleksandra Wozniak in a comfortable two sets. Seeded losers included 2007 semifinalist Anna Chakvetadze, who lost to Ekaterina Makarova, making this her worst Slam finish in three years; Maria Kirilenko, who lost to Tamira Paszek; and Shahar Peer, who lost to Na Li 2–6, 6–0, 6–1.
Day 2 saw the first round matches from the bottom half of the draw begin; Fernando Gonzalez, Fernando Verdasco, Ivo Karlovic, Tommy Robredo, Igor Andreev, and Paul-Henri Mathieu all progressed. Defending champion and number two seed Roger Federer, playing his first Grand Slam since the 2004 Australian Open at a seeding lower than number one, beat Maximo Gonzalez 6–3, 6–0, 6–3, and Andreas Seppi, the thirty-first seed, triumphed in five sets (6–3, 7–5, 3–6, 3–6, 6–3) over Hyung-taik Lee. Four seeds exited the tournament: Richard Gasquet, who lost in five sets to former world number two Tommy Haas; Tomas Berdych, who lost to home favorite Sam Querrey in a humbling 6–3, 6–1, 6–2 scoreline; Canada Masters runner-up Nicolas Kiefer, who retired at two sets to one and 4–1 down in his match against Ivo Minar; and Mikhail Youzhny, who withdrew due to a viral illness.
World No. 1 and top seed Ana Ivanovic, who had recently returned from injury, began her campaign with a hard fought win over Vera Dushevina, coming through 6–1, 4–6, 6–4. The Williams sisters Venus and Serena, both former champions, advanced with relative ease, as did in-form player and US Open Series winner Dinara Safina. Agnieszka Radwanska, Agnes Szavay, Flavia Pennetta, Alize Cornet, Nadia Petrova, Nicole Vaidisova, Alona Bondarenko, Dominika Cibulkova, and former world number one Amelie Mauresmo all scored victories to enter the second round. However, eleventh seed Daniela Hantuchova suffered a heavy defeat to qualifier Anna-Lena Groenefeld, and thirty-first seed Virginie Razzano was also beaten.
In the women's second round matches, Elena Dementieva, Patty Schnyder, Marion Bartoli, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Lindsay Davenport, Katarina Srebotnik, and Sybille Bammer all recorded routine victories to reach the third round. Two players who faced greater resistance from their opponents were Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Jankovic, playing against Sofia Arvidsson, had match points in the second set, and eventually came through 6–3, 6–7(5), 6–4. The match, which lasted two hours and forty-four minutes, left Jankovic unable to complete her warmdown. Kuznetsova meanwhile, had to come back from being 4–2 down to Sorana Cirstea in the first set, before winning in two. Fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva, a bronze medalist at the Olympic Games, lost to Tatiana Perebiynis; Francesca Schiavone lost to Anne Keothavong, making Keothavong the first British woman to reach the third round of the US Open since Jo Durie's run at the 1991 Open; and Anabel Medina Garrigues lost to recent Wimbledon semifinalist Jie Zheng.
The second round of the men's singles commenced, and David Nalbandian, Stanislas Wawrinka, Ivo Karlovic, Gilles Simon, and Juan Martin del Potro all reached the final sixty-four of the draw. Joining them was Rafael Nadal, who completed an imposing defeat over qualifier and world number 261 Ryler De Heart, 6–1, 6–2, 6–4. Three seeds who faced sterner tests from their opponents were David Ferrer, who won a battling contest against Andreas Beck in four sets, Andy Murray, who was inconsistent in defeating Michael Llodra 6–4, 1–6, 7–5, 7–6(7), and American James Blake, who was tied 4–6, 6–3, 1–0 with Steve Darcis before the Belgian's retirement. Two upsets occurred on Day 4: one involved Philipp Kohlschreiber, who retired against the Legg Mason Tennis Classic finalist of a fortnight previous, Viktor Troicki, at 2–6, 6–3, 6–4, 3–0 down; the other saw Paul-Henri Mathieu beaten by American Mardy Fish 6–2, 3–6, 6–3, 6–4.
In the second set of women's second round matches, the biggest shock of the tournament was provided by world number 188 Julie Coin, who defeated Ana Ivanovic, the World No. 1, 6–3, 4–6, 6–3. It was the earliest exit made by a top seed at the tournament since Maria Bueno's second round loss at the 1967 U.S. National Championships, before the beginning of the Open Era; Ivanovic, who made a similarly unexpected exit at the Wimbledon Championships, conceded she was not playing to the standard of a world number one. Coin set up a clash with Amelie Mauresmo, who bypassed the threat of Kaia Kanepi 2–6, 6–4, 6–0. Venus Williams eased to victory over Rossana de los Rios 6–0, 6–3, and sister Serena won in similar fashion versus Elena Vesnina, 6–1, 6–1. A top ten seed who had greater problems progressing was Dinara Safina, who was troubled by her own unpredictable manner of play in defeating Roberta Vinci 6–4, 6–3; Agnieszka Radwanska, Nadia Petrova, Flavia Pennetta, Alize Cornet, and Dominika Cibulkova also came through. Two seeded players who fell were Agnes Szavay, who lost to Tathiana Garbin 5–7, 6–2, 6–3, and Nicole Vaidisova, who lost to Severine Bremond.
Roger Federer and Nikolay Davydenko completed easy wins, over Thiago Alves and Augustin Calleri respectively, to reach the third round on the fifth day of play at Flushing Meadows. Novak Djokovic was forced into a first set tiebreak against American qualifier Robert Kendrick, and, after having been 6–2 up, faced two sets points in Kendrick's favor, before winning it 10–8; Djokovic then took the next two sets, 6–4, 6–4. Afterwards, Djokovic credited the first set win to his improved mental strength. Another top ten seed who faced problems in the early stages of his match was Andy Roddick, who eventually secured a 3–6, 7–5, 6–2, 7–5 win over Ernests Gulbis. Fernando Gonzalez won in straight sets against Bobby Reynolds, despite sustaining an ankle injury; Tommy Robredo ended 2000 champion Marat Safin's participation in four; and Gilles Muller and Jarkko Nieminen, two unseeded players, won their matches after each having been two sets down. Other seeds to make progress were Fernando Verdasco, Nicolas Almagro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Igor Andreev, Dmitry Tursunov, Radek Stepanek, Marin Cilic, and Andreas Seppi.
In the women's singles, Svetlana Kuznetsova became the second top five seed to be knocked out in the space of two days, as she succumbed to number twenty-eight seed Katarina Srebotnik, 6–3, 6–7(1), 6–3. Kuznetsova praised Srebotnik in defeat, saying that she had no qualms over her own performance. Jelena Jankovic, who was playing Jie Zheng, found herself in a similar predicament to Kuznetsova, in that she was facing a second difficult match-up in three days. Jankovic, however, prevailed, 7–5, 7–5, after a steadfast Zheng saved four match points in a final game that witnessed 11 deuces. Marion Bartoli reached the fourth round, beating veteran Lindsay Davenport, who would neither confirm nor deny whether she was on the brink of retirement. Elena Dementieva, Patty Schnyder, and Sybille Bammer all continued their progress through the early rounds, and Caroline Wozniacki, the twenty-first seed, upset fourteenth seeded Victoria Azarenka.
Day 6 featured several surprises and high intensity contests, as four of the eight men's matches went to five sets, and five seeded players were knocked out. The win that the New York Times lauded as the greatest upset of the men's competition thus far, was Kei Nishikori's victory over 2007 semifinalist and fourth seed David Ferrer. Nishikori, ranked world number 126, won after Ferrer had staged a comeback from two sets down, and then saved five match points of his, 6–4, 6–4, 3–6, 2–6, 7–5. Nishikori, aged 18, was the youngest man to reach the fourth round at the US Open since Marat Safin in 1998, and the first Japanese man since Shuzo Matsuoka at the 1995 Wimbledon Championships to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam. Nishikori set up a tie with Juan Martin del Potro, who stretched his winning run to 22 matches with a 6–4, 6–7(4), 6–1, 3–6, 6–3 triumph over Gilles Simon, who was seeded one place higher than him at sixteenth. Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka both came through in five sets, and both had to forge comebacks after having been 2–0 down in sets. Murray, who at one point was two points away from losing the match, defeated Jurgen Melzer 6–7(5), 4–6, 7–6(5), 6–1, 6–3; whilst Wawrinka beat lucky loser Flavio Cipolla 5–7, 6–7(4), 6–4, 6–0, 6–4. Thirty-second seed Gael Monfils knocked out number seven David Nalbandian; unseeded Mardy Fish beat number nine seed and good friend James Blake; and the also unseeded Sam Querrey beat number fourteen Ivo Karlovic (all straight sets). Rafael Nadal also reached the fourth round.
Milestones were also being set in the women's competition, as Anna-Lena Groenefeld (who beat number seventeen seed Alize Cornet) became the first qualifier to reach the fourth round of the US Open since Anna Kournikova in 1996. The Williams sisters continued their progression untroubled, as each won on the scoreline of 6–2, 6–1 (Venus against number twenty-seven seed Alona Bondarenko, Serena against number thirty Ai Sugiyama). Dinara Safina was again forced into a tough match, eventually beating teenager Timea Bacsinszky 3–6, 7–5, 6–2, after being two points away from losing the match in the second set. In the other matches, ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska eased to victory over eighteenth seed Dominika Cibulkova, 6–0, 6–3; sixteenth seed Flavia Pennetta beat Nadia Petrova, seeded three places lower; Amelie Mauresmo ended the run of Julie Coin; and wild card Severine Bremond knocked Tathiana Garbin out of the tournament.
On the day that marked the half-way point of the tournament, the men's third round matches were finished. Novak Djokovic, facing the number thirty seed and recent Pilot Pen Tennis champion Marin Cilic, was severely tested by the 19-year-old, but won through 6–7(7), 7–5, 6–4, 7–6(0) in four hours. Cilic continued to claw his way back into the match, as early breaks of serve by Djokovic in the final three sets were all nullified, and two match points were missed before he won. Roger Federer's win was in contrast to this, as he completed a comprehensive victory over number twenty-eight seed Radek Stepanek, 6–3, 6–3, 6–2; and Andy Roddick also made easier passage to the fourth round, defeating number thirty Andreas Seppi 6–2, 7–5, 7–6(4). Both of these players were particularly successful on their serves. Nikolay Davydenko also put in a consummate performance to beat twenty-sixth seed Dmitry Tursunov, 6–2, 7–6, 6–3. Fifteenth seed Tommy Robredo knocked out the nineteenth seed and Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; eleventh seed Fernando Gonzalez defeated Jarkko Nieminen in four sets; and number twenty-three seed Igor Andreev defeated his higher-ranked opponent, number thirteen Fernando Verdasco, 6–2, 6–4, 6–4. Finally, qualifier Gilles Muller, who had not won three Tour level matches since July 2005 coming into the event, beat a second opponent after being two sets to love down (this time number eighteen Nicolas Almagro) in consecutive rounds, 6–7(3), 3–6, 7–6(5), 7–6,(6) 7–5.
Number two seed Jelena Jankovic faced a third successive match in which she struggled to reach the next round, but came through against teenager Caroline Wozniacki 3–6, 6–2, 6–1. Jankovic, who faced a similarly stern test versus Wozniacki at Wimbledon, was sluggish in the opening set, but proved dangerous on the rebound, as she took the next two losing only three games, and played in a more aggressive manner. Elena Dementieva cruised to victory against Na Li, and fifteenth seed Patty Schnyder beat Katarina Srebotnik to reach her second US Open quarterfinal, her first having come ten years earlier. Notably, the other fourth round match played, between twenty-ninth seed Sybille Bammer and number twelve Marion Bartoli, matched the longest women's singles match on record at the Open, clocking in at three hours and three minutes—with Bammer prevailing, 7–6(3), 0–6, 6–4. Bartoli called the trainer twice during the match, and said afterwards that she had been ailed by a stomach bug and low blood pressure.
Rafael Nadal faced the first opponent, home favorite Sam Querrey, to cause him a palpable threat, as he came through 6–2, 5–7, 7–6(2), 6–3. Nadal struggled in the latter stages of the second set (which was the first one he dropped in the tournament), and up until the tiebreak of the third, putting in a subdued performance in which the quality of his serve wavered. An American who did progress to the quarter-finals was Mardy Fish, who beat number thirty-two seed Gael Monfils 7–5, 6–2, 6–2. Fish played an attack-minded match, hitting 49 winners and regularly utilizing serve and volley tactics. Meanwhile, in the men's night match between number six seed Andy Murray and number ten Stanislas Wawrinka, Murray secured an accomplished win (6–1, 6–3, 6–3), in what BBC journalist Piers Newbery called "one of the best performances of his career". Murray set up a clash with Juan Martin del Potro, who defeated Kei Nishikori in straight sets, 6–3, 6–4, 6–3.
In the women's singles, fourth seed Serena Williams continued to make serene progress, as she defeated Severine Bremond 6–2, 6–2. Williams was highly successful on her first serve, with a conversion rate of 69%, and a points-won rate of 90%. Sister Venus, the number seven seed, set up a quarter-final clash with her, as she also completed an easy victory, over ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, 6–1, 6–3. Serena and Venus, who had recently played each other in the Wimbledon final (with Venus emerging the victor), expressed dismay at their seedings, which meant that they met at an earlier round than the final. The pair had previously faced each other in the Open final, with Venus winning in 2001 and Serena the following year. Also progressing was sixth seed Dinara Safina, who faced a difficult first set against Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 7–5, 6–0. Safina, who had encountered several difficult opponents before this round, revealed post-match that she was in tears directly before the match, due to the physical exertion she had endured thus far. However, coach Zeljko Krajan persuaded her to play, and she told reporters afterwards of her relief at having done so. Flavia Pennetta also navigated her way into the quarterfinals, defeating Amelie Mauresmo 6–3, 6–0. Mauresmo, a former world number one and two-time Grand Slam champion, played an error-strewn match, in which she served 14 double faults and hit 40 unforced errors.
On Day 9, two of the top three seeds, and the two finalists from the previous year, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, were severely tested. Federer, aiming for his fifth consecutive Open title, was playing twenty-sixth seed Igor Andreev in one of the scheduled night matches on the Arthur Ashe Stadium; he was victorious in five sets, 6–7(5), 7–6(5), 6–3, 3–6, 6–3. Federer struggled to break Andreev's serve in the opening two sets, whereas Andreev broke Federer in the first game of the first, and had seven break points in the early games of the second (Andreev had a low success rate overall, only taking advantage of two out of fifteen break points in the whole match). In the final set Andreev, at 4–2 down, had five further break point opportunities, but failed to convert any as Federer served out the match. Djokovic was also pushed to five sets, defeating fifteenth seed Tommy Robredo 4–6, 6–2, 6–3, 5–7, 6–3 in nearly four hours. Robredo broke Djokovic's serve at 4–4 the first set, before Djokovic won sets two and three with some ease. However, after having broken serve in the fourth, Robredo levelled the match at 3–3, prompting the number three seed to smash his racket, and be the subject of booing from sections of the crowd. Djokovic failed to convert break points at 5–5, allowing Robredo to forge a break of his own and take it to a fifth set. Djokovic was able to close out the match after breaking at 2–2 in the final set. Djokovic was beset by problems related to both a hip injury (for which he required two time-outs) and exhaustion, having been unable to sleep until 4.30 am (UTC-5) on Day 8 after his match with Marin Cilic. Robredo responded by saying, "I think that if you're not fit enough, then don't play." Djokovic set up a tie with sixth seed Andy Roddick, who easily beat eleventh seed and recent Olympic silver medalist Fernando Gonzalez 6–2, 6–4, 6–1; 2003 champion Roddick acknowledged that he would have to complete an upset to defeat Djokovic, despite Djokovic's admission that whomever he faced in the next round would be a fitter opponent. Gilles Muller continued his unexpected run, as he defeated fifth seed Nikolay Davydenko in a demanding match that finished 6–4, 4–6, 6–3, 7–6(10). Muller, who served twenty aces, became the lowest-ranked player, at world number 130, to reach the quarterfinals of the Open since Nicolas Escude (rank 136) in 1999, and the lowest-ranked at a Grand Slam tournament since Alexander Popp at Wimbledon 2003. He was also the first Luxembourgian to reach the quarterfinal stage of a Grand Slam.
The latter stages of the women's tournament began, as the quarterfinal matches in the bottom half of the draw were played. Fifth seed and 2004 finalist Elena Dementieva progressed first, defeating the fifteenth seed Patty Schnyder with a competent display, 6–2, 6–3. Dementieva won the first set with two breaks, and although Schnyder broke back to level at 3–3 in the second, Dementieva won the next three games. Jelena Jankovic, a semifinalist in 2006, joined her, completing an easy 6–1, 6–4 win over twenty-ninth seed Sybille Bammer, who was playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Jankovic, whose match was relocated to the Louis Armstrong Stadium after the Federer-Andreev match overran, was one of four players, along with Dementieva, Serena Williams, and Dinara Safina who stood a chance of claiming the World No. 1 spot at the end of the tournament.
The first two quarterfinal matches of the men's singles were played; top seed Rafael Nadal and sixth seed Andy Murray advanced to set up a match versus each other. Murray, who played first, defeated seventeenth seed Juan Martin del Potro, and ended del Potro's 23-match winning streak in the process. Murray endeavored to victory in nearly four hours, with the final scoreline at 7–6(2) 7–6(1), 4–6, 7–5. There was a history of antagonism between the pair, despite having only played once before, at the 2008 Rome Masters; in this match, del Potro had allegedly hit a ball straight at Murray, and not apologized, and later insulted Murray's mother. In the first set, Murray raced ahead, and led 4–1 before del Potro went on to win the next four games. Murray then broke back, and dominated the tiebreak that took place shortly afterwards. In the second set, it was Murray who broke late in the set, at 5–5, and he had an opportunity to serve for the set. Although del Potro broke back, Murray again eased through the tiebreak. Murray accelerated into a 3–1 lead in the third set, but del Potro fought back, and won the set, affording Murray only one more game. The players exchanged two breaks of serve in the final set, before Murray gained a decisive break at 6–5 to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal. Murray said the history of ill feeling between the pair did not transfer itself to the court, and that del Potro had apologized as the players shook hands at the end. The nineteen-year-old del Potro, who had won four tournaments over the course of his winning streak, hailed Murray as one of "best players in the world" in his press conference; however, he was unable to finish the round of questioning, and left mid-way through in tears. In the match between Nadal and the unseeded American Mardy Fish, Fish continued to play the attacking brand of tennis that he had done in the previous round, and, in front of a partisan home crowd, won the first set 6–3. However, Nadal improved his performance in the following three sets, and produced a number of passing shots to counter Fish's aggressive play, eventually coming through 3–6, 6–1, 6–4, 6–2. Due in part to the longevity of the Williams-Williams match, the players remained on court till after 2.11 am, meaning that the match was sixteen minutes shy of the latest match ever played at the Open.
The late women's match was between the Williams sisters of Venus and Serena, both of whom had won the Open title twice previously. Serena prevailed in two sets, 7–6(6), 7–6(7), but not without considerable difficulty. Venus took the initiative in the opening stages, breaking to lead 3–1, and had the advantage of serving for two sets points at 5–3, 40–15. However, Serena launched a comeback, and won the first set on a tiebreak score of 8–6. In a second set that mirrored the first in many ways, Venus broke at 3–2 up, and again served for the set at 5–3; Venus used an array of attacking shots, regularly approaching the net and playing a number of cross-court forehands. Venus then led Serena for a large portion of the second set tiebreak, but squandered eight sets points; Serena, meanwhile, won on her first match point to secure the tiebreak 9–7. Serena commented afterwards that the siblings were "definitely playing the best [tennis of the tournament] so far." Sixth seed Dinara Safina filled the other semifinal spot, defeating sixteenth seed Flavia Pennetta 6–2, 6–3. Safina, who had reached the final stage of six of her previous seven tournaments, said that she hoped to emulate her brother Marat, who won his maiden Grand Slam tournament at Flushing Meadows in 2000.
Day 11 featured a men's quarterfinal, between Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick, that, like the match between Murray and del Potro, was preceded, and in this case, followed by, a controversial incident somewhat extraneous to the match played. Roddick said, in a press conference held on Day 10, that Djokovic was "either quick to call a trainer or the most courageous guy of all time", insinuating that his opponent had a reputation for being injured (as he had been in his previous match) and, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, listed a series of esoteric conditions that Djokovic may have been afflicted with ("Back and a hip? And a cramp? Bird flu? Anthrax? SARS? Common cough and cold?"). The American, renowned for his serve, struggled with this aspect of his game in the early stages of the match, and Djokovic broke three times in the first set, winning in 27 minutes; he then took the second, needing only one break of serve in that set. However, Roddick, who had the support of the home crowd to his advantage, broke to lead 3–1 in the third, and he eventually won the third set. In the fourth set, Roddick appeared to have gained momentum after breaking Djokovic's serve to lead 4–3. Roddick was playing with increased exuberance at this point, and the crowd became more vocal, even making noise during Djokovic's service motions. Roddick's serve failed him again though when, at 5–4, 30–0 up, he doubled-faulted twice and allowed Djokovic to break back; the number three seed then went on to win the tiebreak and seal the win 6–2, 6–3, 3–6, 7–6(5). Djokovic then vented his anger at Roddick's comments in a post-match, court-side interview, beginning by stating, sarcastically, "Andy was saying that I have 16 injuries in the last match; obviously I don't, right?" The crowd then began to boo Djokovic, to which he said, "Like it or not, it's like that." The interviewer, wanting to diffuse the situation, told Djokovic that, "This crowd loves you, but you could turn them against you real fast"; Djokovic responded by saying "I know [the crowd] are already against me because they think I am faking everything." In a later interview, Roddick criticized Djokovic for being able to mock other players with his impressions, but being unable to receive mockery of himself in a gracious manner; Djokovic showed contrition, calling it a "mistake" and apologizing to Roddick. Djokovic had set up a match with the player he lost to in the 2007 final, Roger Federer, who had earlier beaten qualifier Gilles Muller 7–6(5), 6–4, 7–6(5). The former World No. 1 produced a measured performance, attacking Muller in the latter stages of the three sets. Muller fended off five set points in the first, before being broken in the tiebreak at 4–4. Federer broke serve at 4–4 (games) in the second set, and then served that set out; Muller put up stronger resistance in the third set tiebreak, leading 4–1 and 5–3, but after this allowed Federer to win the next four points. With this victory, Federer maintained his sequence of consecutive Grand Slam semifinals, with this being the eighteenth time he had done so.
In the one men's semifinal that was completed, Federer, who had endured a poor season by his standards, defeated Djokovic 6–3, 5–7, 7–5, 6–2 to reach his third Grand Slam final of the year, and seventeenth overall. The last time the pair had met on hardcourts was in January, in the Australian Open semifinal, where Djokovic had convincingly beaten Federer; the time before this was in the aforementioned 2007 final, where Federer had won in straight sets. Both players made impressive starts to their encounter on this occasion, as they secured easy holds of serve the opening two games. However, in third game, Federer broke, and did not lose another service game in the first set. In the second set, it was Djokovic who gained the early break, and he led 3–1 before Federer rallied back to draw level at 4–4. However, this proved to be in vain as Federer, who had already saved two set points from 0–40 down, was broken at 5–6 to hand Djokovic the second set. The score was deadlocked at 5–5 in the third when Federer fashioned a crucial break of serve, and went on to win the set. During the match, Djokovic had felt the wrath of the US crowd, who were vociferous in their support for Federer, and who at times cheered when he hit unforced errors. After being broken at 5–5, Djokovic turned and gave them a mock gesture of thanks, which only incited them further. Federer added afterwards that he felt he had broken Djokovic's will by winning this set. Federer broke again in the fifth game of the fourth set, and did not lose another game as he cruised to victory. The other men's semifinal, between Nadal and Murray, was suspended with the score at 6–2, 7–6(5), 2–3 in Murray's favor (although he was a break down in the third). Murray began the match in an aggressive manner, serving and volleying, and hitting several winners from the back of the court as well. He was rewarded with two breaks of serve in the first set, at 1–1 and 4–2. Murray continued to bother Nadal on serve in the second, but could not break, despite holding seven break points, and facing none against himself. In the tiebreak, he squandered an early lead before reeling off three points in a row at 4–5 down to gain a two set advantage. Nadal broke Murray early in the second set, before a short postponement in play was initiated when a light rain appeared, in order to give the referee time to assess whether the court was still suitable for play. Murray queried the initial decision to stop play, but the rain soon came on stronger, and the match was suspended overnight.
The women's singles final was also played, and Williams was victorious over Jankovic in two sets, 6–4, 7–5. Williams also reclaimed the number one berth for the first time since 2003, something that Jankovic would have done had she won the title. The players came into the final with a win-loss record against each other of 3-3, although Jankovic said beforehand that, "Overall, she's, I think, the strongest player on the tour, together with her sister." The match was preceded by an opening ceremony that included Anita Baker singing the US national anthem, a group of people moving a gigantic American flag over the court, and a coin toss performed by Billie Jean King. The match, which the BBC called "one of the more memorable US Open finals", began in exciting fashion, with Serena being edged to deuce in the first game, as both players hit a number of winners and unforced errors in the opening stages. Jankovic appeared to be playing with greater confidence though, when she broke to love in the third game of the match. Any advantage that this break gave her was nullified in the very next game, as Williams broke back from 40–0 down. Jankovic was broken again to go 4–2 down, but it was her turn to break back as Williams made several errors when serving for the set at 5–3. Her work was undone when she went 0–40 down in the next game, and after saving one set point, ceded the first set to Williams on the following one.
Williams began the second set ominously for Jankovic, as she held to love and then forced two break points on her serve. The next four games saw the players contest several exhausting rallies, but Williams was the only one to force any break points, gaining a lead of 15–40 at 2–1 and 3–2, with Jankovic holding both times. Before the seventh game of the third set, Williams went to use her towel, and Jankovic complained to the umpire about the violation; the same one she had committed in the previous round. With the score at 40–30 in Williams's favor, Jankovic hit a winner, and although the decision of the line judge incensed Williams, it was shown to be clearly in on the Hawk-Eye review; Jankovic then won the game, and her next one when back her serve. She then had her first three set points in the next game, racing to a 0–40 lead, but failed to convert any as Williams held on. With Jankovic serving for the set (5–4), Williams displayed coolness in taking a 0–40 lead, the final point in this sequence being her eighth in a row. Jankovic won the next three points though, and after Williams twice held advantage, she hit an ace to bring up her fourth set point. However, Jankovic double-faulted on this opportunity, and allowed Williams to win the game on her sixth break point. Williams won the next two games, and although Jankovic had a game point at 6–5, she double-faulted and Williams took the match on her second championship point.
This was the ninth Grand Slam tournament that Williams had won, and she did not drop a set on her way to doing so. At the time, Williams joined an elite group of six women who had won nine or more Grand Slam titles in the open era, equalling Monica Seles's tally with this triumph. Williams, who had dominated the sport from 2002 to 2003, but been ranked outside the top 125 in 2006, put her renaissance, not only in this tournament but for the whole of 2008, down to an better approach towards fitness. Williams had won her first Grand Slam at the Open, in 1999, and reflected on her future by saying that she wanted to win several more before her career was over. Jankovic meanwhile, said she was contented with her first outing in a Grand Slam final, and joked that she probably deserved an Oscar for the dramatic nature of her matches in the two weeks that led up to the final.
Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray in straight sets 6–2, 7–5, 6–2, to claim his fifth consecutive title, thus cementing his place in history as the first man since Bill Tilden in 1924 to have achieved this feat. The only other men to have done so were Richard Sears, in 1887, and Bill Larned, in 1911 (Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras had each won five times, but not consecutively). Federer created a new record, becoming the first man to have won two different Grand Slam events five consecutive times (the other being Wimbledon), and this win left him one short of Pete Sampras's all-time men's record of 14 Grand Slam singles wins. In the context of Federer's career, this was the sixth straight year in which he had won a Grand Slam. Murray also came into the match aiming to a break a pre-open era record, his being one of national importance—the last British man to have won a Grand Slam singles title was Fred Perry at the 1936 U.S. National Championships, the last British woman to have done so was Virginia Wade at Wimbledon 1977.
Coming into this tournament, both players had contrasting records at Grand Slams: the twenty-seven year old Federer had reached sixteen Grand Slam finals, and won twelve, whereas the twenty-one year old Murray had had yet to reach the final of one. Murray however, held a win-loss record of 2-1 against Federer, and had most recently beaten him at the 2008 Dubai Tennis Championships. Murray, who expressed confidence coming into the final, said that this small positive record stood for little though, and he, along with a number of commentators, including former Wimbledon champions Pat Cash and Michael Stich, acknowledged Federer to be the favorite, despite his disappointing year.
The match, dubbed by famous American sports promoter Don King as the "Grapple in the Apple", began at 5.00 pm (UTC-5). The pair easily held the opening three games, before Federer launched his first assault on Murray's serve at 2–1 up; however, he could not convert his one break point opportunity. Federer eased through next service game, and broke Murray for the first time at 3–2 following a succession of errors from the Brit. Federer fired another series of big serves in the seventh game, and then broke Murray to win the first set, 6–2, in a time of twenty-seven minutes. Murray lost the first two games of the second set, meaning that Federer had won a cumulative total of six straight games in a row. Murray immediately broke back though, and appeared to have steadied himself by winning the next game, allowing Federer only one point. Federer failed to hit any successful first serves in the next game, and Murray gained three consecutive break points at 0–40. Federer won the next three points, despite, on evidence of a replay, having clearly hit one of his shots long. Because Murray did not stop the point, he could not challenge the call; after the match, when Murray was asked about this, he said he was disappointed, but thought that the rules were correct in not allowing retrospective challenges. Both players comfortably held the next four games, although some minor threats presented themselves for Federer at 4–4, 0–15 and 30–30 (Murray hit backhands long both times). Murray was aided in the next game, when he was serving to stay in the set, as Federer hit four unforced errors, all going long. Federer won the next game, and then seized his final opportunity on a Murray service game, winning the final game of the second set to love.
Federer was at his imperious best in the third set; Murray was broken to love twice as Federer raced ahead to a 5–0 lead, with Murray winning only four points up to this point in the set. He did, however, win the next two games. Federer broke the game after though, winning on his second championship point in a point that required three smashes from the defending champion. The match lasted one hour and fifty-one minutes, thirteen minutes fewer than it took to complete the women's final. The only players that Federer had not surpassed, in terms of US Open wins, at this point in his career were the following players: Richard Sears, who had won seven straight, Bill Larned who seven overall, and Bill Tilden with six straight and seven overall (all three of these players played before the open era). In the last on-court televised interview, Federer was adamant that he would not stop at thirteen, describing such a scenario as "terrible." Federer, who at the time had a total win-loss record of 45-4 at the Open and 34-match winning streak, said that the streak was of great importance to him, especially after having lost at Wimbledon. Reflecting on his year, he said, "I had a couple of tough Grand Slams this year. To take this one home is incredible." Murray said of the competition with Federer in tournaments that "I got the better of him the past two times, but he definitely set the record straight," and said, on his future, "I know mentally now that I can get to a Slam final, and physically. The only thing it comes down to is the tennis." Paying tribute to Federer, he said that, "I came up against, in my opinion, the best player ever to play the game."