NEW YORK (AP):
Novak Djokovic will play Rafael Nadal in the final of the US Open after the two top seeds won their semi-finals yesterday in contrasting fashion.
Top-seeded Djokovic advanced to his fourth straight US Open final by overcoming the loss of a 21-minute game in the fifth set to defeat Stanislas Wawrinka 2-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
While the Serb laboured, Nadal swept past Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-2.
Nadal extended his streak without losing a service game to 73 before Frenchman Gasquet broke him in the fourth game of the second set. Both players held through to the tiebreaker, which Nadal won easily.
Ninth-seeded Wawrinka saved five break points and hit a service winner on the 30th point of the epic game to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth set.
But he came out tired and lost the next two games, then Djokovic served out the 4-hour, 9-minute match to move into his fourth straight final at the US Open.
"I was thinking, I guess everyone was thinking, that whoever wins this game is going to win the match," Djokovic said. "After he won the game I thought to myself, 'OK, I guess I have to fight against those odds.'"
He did, to improve to 20-7 in five-set matches, and now the 2011 champion will go for his second US Open title tomorrow.
"I managed to find my way through, to adjust, and to win," Djokovic said. "That's what counts."
His victory will be remembered mostly for a game he lost - the third game of the final set, a back-and-forth roller-coaster ride in which Djokovic had five opportunities to break for a 2-1 lead and lost them all.
Wawrinka had eight game points. Before the last, he gestured to the crowd to pump up the volume. Sensing the opportunity, Djokovic kidded around, as well. Wawrinka followed that well-deserved break in the action with a 123-mph service winner up the middle.
"It was a really long game with some good points and some big mistakes," said Wawrinka, of Switzerland, who made it farther than his country's most famous player, Roger Federer, for the first time in any of his 35 Grand Slam appearances.
"He was quite nervous. I was really tired," Wawrinka said. "I was struggling physically, and it was not easy to keep the level quite high. But, for me, it was just important to fight and not to let him go and not to lose 6-1 or 6-2, but just to try to get every game I can."