Djokovic, Nadal set up blockbuster US Open final

Djokovic, Nadal set up blockbuster US Open final

NEW YORK - World number one Novak Djokovic and number two Rafa Nadal set up a mouthwatering men's singles final at the US Open with victories in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows on Saturday.

Monday's US Open championship showdown will be the third in four years for Djokovic (in photo above) and Nadal at the US National Tennis Center after they advanced in contrasting fashion.

Top seed Djokovic sealed his berth first by overtaking gutsy ninth seed Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in a heart-pounding 2-6 7-6(4) 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over four hours.

Nadal conserved his energy, dismissing eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-4 7-6(1) 6-2 to improve his career record to 11-0 against the Frenchman and his 2013 hardcourt record to 21-0.

The Spaniard, winner of 12 grand slam titles, won his only US Open crown in 2010 against Djokovic, who claimed his Flushing Meadows title the following year against Nadal. Last year Djokovic was runner-up to Briton Andy Murray.

"Last year I didn't have the chance to play on this court," said Nadal, who was sidelined seven months due to a knee injury.

"To have the chance to play in the final Monday is just a dream for me. It has been two amazing weeks for me."

TOUGH FINAL

Djokovic and Nadal are the most familiar of rivals and will be playing against each other for a tour record 37th time. Nadal leads their series 21-15.

"Novak is an amazing competitor," said the reigning French Open champion. "His results say he is probably one of the best players I have ever seen. He's a great champion and will be a tough final for me, but I hope to be ready for that."

While Nadal took apart Gasquet in his semi-final, Djokovic got off to a slow start against an inspired Wawrinka and relied on his stamina to wear down the Swiss.

The tumultuous match included a warning for courtside coaching from Djokovic's box, the mangling of a racket by a frustrated Wawrinka and a medical timeout for the Swiss for a strained thigh muscle.

It reached a crescendo at 1-1 in the fifth set on Wawrinka's serve.

The combatants locked into a marathon duel that lasted 21 minutes and featured a series of fierce rallies and brilliant shot-making.

Wawrinka fought off five break points among 12 deuces before closing out the game on the 30th point with a service winner, and players earned warm ovations for their desire and skill.

"These matches are what we live for, what we practice for," Djokovic said after reaching his fourth successive US Open final.

"All the credit to (Wawrinka) for being so aggressive and playing so well. I'm just fortunate to play my best tennis when I needed to."

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