Top seed Novak Djokovic is just one match away from retaining his US Open title as the Serbian held off a Gaels Monfils fight-back to keep his quest for a 13th grand slam title alive.
Frenchman Monfils had not dropped a set at Flushing Meadows ahead of the semi-final but he fell to a 2-0 deficit to the world number one and despite pulling one back, it was Djokovic who booked his final spot with a 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-2 win.
Djokovic had spent only six hours and 24 minutes on court after a walkover and two retirements on his way to the final four and he was cruising against the tenth seed leading by two sets and a break against Monfils’ unusual tactics on Friday evening.
However, Monfils raced toward the net to collect a drop shot and break back in the third which caused a shift in his favour as he won the next five games in a row as Djokovic felt the effects of a shoulder injury that bothered him in the first round.
Humid conditions took its toll on the 30-year-old Monfils in the fourth set and as Djokovic served for the match at 5-2, the Frenchman did not bother to attempt to return a forehand onto an open court as world number one Djokovic booked his place in a seventh US Open final.
The defending champion will face third seed Stan Wawrinka in the final on Sunday as he kept his dreams of a third grand slam triumph alive by defeating Andy Murray’s conqueror Kei Nishikori.
Like Djokovic, Wawrinka was taken to four sets by the Japanese man as the former Australian Open and French Open champion had to dig deep to come from a set down to earn a hard-fought 4-6 7-5 6-4 6-2.victory.
Nishikori looked in control early on as he took a one set lead over his Swiss opponent with smart serves and brilliant net play, but a late break point in the second was enough for Wawrinka to level things up.
The momentum was now in the third seed’s favour as he raced to a 4-1 lead in the third but Nishikori fought back for 4-4 and saved a set point at 5-6 but Wawrinka kept his composure to clinch the third set on his second set point.
Wawrinka’s return game continued to catch out the sixth seed as he broke early in the fourth and despite a woeful service game at 3-2, the Swiss man won the next three to seal his place in his first US Open final as Nishikori dumped a short forehand into the net on match point.
Tomorrow, we will crown a new US Open women’s champion as Karolina Pliskova aims to cause another upset to win her first grand slam against Angelique Kerber, as the new top seed aims to win her second major of the year.