World number one Novak Djokovic came from one set down to proceed into his fourth US Open final with a thrilling five-set win over Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka.
The Serb beat ninth seed Wawrinka 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and will face Rafael Nadal in Mondays final after the Spaniard saw off Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2.
The 26-year-old top seed was broken three times, won only 11% of the point on his second serve and conceded 14 unforced errors on his way to losing the first set.
Determined not to let a repeat of Andy Murray’s faith against Wawrinka resurface against him in front of the 23,000 spectators at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, New York, Djokovic took advantage of a late edgy play from the Swiss, who had raced into a 4-2 lead in the second, to win the tie break.
A break point was saved at the start of the third and a tight set, when Djokovic inexplicably produced a rather woeful service game at 4-3 down, netting a forehand to lose it to love.
Wawrinka conquered an exhilarating rally at 30-30 to serve it out and regain the lead.
Things began to unravel for the Swiss in the fourth set, after falling 3-0 down, he was deducted a penalty point for “ball abuse” and also left for a medical timeout before a fired up Djokovic had the chance to finish off the set and force a decider.
Djokovic used his experience to subject his opponent to massive pressure in the deciding set and the Swiss floated a backhand long in game five to give up the break.
After four hours and nine minutes, Djokovic finally arrived at three match points and, after netting a forehand on the first, the top seed fired an ace down the middle.
“Wawrinka was a better player for most of the match because he was aggressive and played better tennis,” said Djokovic.
“I just tried to hang on and fight and be mentally tough and believe all the way through I could actually win.
“And I sincerely believed that as the match progressed maybe I would have that physical edge over him.
“Also, being in these kind of matches and situations and playing on a big stage in semi-finals, maybe that experience could give me a little bit more confidence mentally.”