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US OPEN TENNS

Rafa gets ready for another Grand Slam final date with Djokovic

After blowing away Gasquet, Nadal guns for second US Open crown

El País Agencies
Madrid / New York -
Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal plays a point against France's Richard Gasquet during their semifinal match.
Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal plays a point against France's Richard Gasquet during their semifinal match. EMMANUEL DUNAND (AFP)

Rafael Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in Monday night's final of the US Open in New York after sailing past Richard Gasquet of France, 6-4, 7-6, 6-2, in the semifinals on Saturday.

The world number eight earned the honor of becoming the first person to break Nadal's serve in the tournament so far, but the Spaniard survived the test and remains unbeaten on hard courts this season.

"It is incredible to be in the final once again," said the 27-year-old Mallorcan, who will be attempting to win his second US Open title in his 18th Grand Slam final.

"Novak is an amazing competitor, one of the best players I have ever seen. A great champion. I hope to be ready," he added.

His impressive run of form since coming back after seven months out with a knee injury in February, marred only by his first-round exit at Wimbledon in June, makes the Spaniard the man to beat in the Big Apple.

The Serbian world number one, who will maintain that status whatever happens on the cement at Flushing Meadows on Monday, had more of a battle to come back against Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka in his own semi, eventually emerging 2-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 and 6-4 to reach his fourth US Open final in as many years.

Meanwhile, Nadal has yet to drop a set in New York. After losing the first, Gasquet applied some pressure by breaking the number two seed's serve at 2-1 in the second. But as the set entered a tiebreak, the Frenchman double-faulted on the first point and Nadal raced to a 6-1 lead and took the set at the first opportunity.

An early break in the third allowed the Mallorcan to accelerate and seal another date with Djokovic. It will be the pair's sixth meeting in a Grand Slam final. Nadal has won five of their last six matches, among them a thrilling five-set semifinal at this year's French Open.

"It is good if both of us are playing at a very high level so the match becomes great because we play long rallies, we bring our game and it becomes a very difficult match for both of us," Nadal said. "I hope to be ready for that. I'm going to try. I need to keep playing very aggressively, and play a very, very good match. Only like this am I going to have a chance.

"I'm going to try my best to win on Monday," he continued. "What makes the difference is to win the US Open... For me the only important thing is the US Open. That's the most important thing."

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