NEW YORK - World number one Novak Djokovic and number two Rafa Nadal set up a mouth-watering men's final at the US Open with victories in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.
The US Open championship showdown, which gets underway late tonight, will be the third in four years for Djokovic and Nadal at the U.S. National Tennis Centre 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 U.S. 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."
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.
"These matches are what we live for, what we practise for," Djokovic said after reaching his fourth successive US Open final.
Meanwhile, world number one Serena Williams was last night set to take on number two Victoria Azarenka for the women's singles title on Sunday in a tantalising rematch of last year's championship decider.