NEW YORK, USA – Rafael Nadal, an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion, advanced to his fifth US Open final by battling past Italy's Matteo Berrettini, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-1, on Friday, September 6 (Saturday, September 7, Philippine time) .
The 33-year-old Spaniard will play for his fourth US Open crown on Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium against Russian 5th seed Daniil Medvedev, who reached his first Grand Slam final by defeating Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-3.
"It means a lot to be back where I am today after some tough moments at the beginning of the season," said Nadal, who battled a right hip injury early in the year.
A victory Sunday would put the world No. 2 Nadal only one win shy of Roger Federer's record men's total of 20 Grand Slam titles.
Nadal will play in his 27th career Grand Slam final, his fifth in New York, as he chases a fourth US Open title, one shy of the record of 5 shared by Federer, Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors.
Nadal beat Medvedev in last month's Montreal final in their only prior meeting. But the world No. 2 skipped Cincinnati, where Medvedev was champion the following week.
"He's one of the more solid players on tour. He's making steps forward every single week. He's the player that is playing better on tour this summer," Nadal said.
"I need to be playing at my best."
Medvedev, in his first Grand Slam final at 23, has gone 20-2 in the past 6 weeks with runner-up efforts in Washington and Canada, a title in Cincinnati and a breakthrough US Open run.
"Finally I'm here after 3 sets," Medvedev said. "I'm just happy to be in the final."
Medvedev, now 20-2 in the 4 North American events, beat Berrettini last year at Indian Wells in their only matchup.
"When I was going to USA, I didn't know it was going to be this good," Medvedev said. "So I have to say I love USA."
Medvedev is the first Russian in a Grand Slam final since Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open title and the first Russian to reach the US Open final since Safin won the 2000 crown.
At 23, Medvedev is just the third men's Grand Slam finalist born in the 1990s after Canada's Milos Raonic and Austria's Dominic Thiem. He could become the first '90s-born Slam winner.
Medvedev is only the third Open Era player to reach finals in Washington, Canada, Cincinnati and the US Open in the same year after Ivan Lendl in 1982 and Andre Agassi in 1995.
Dimitrov, who lost 7 of his 8 matches just prior to arriving at Flushing Meadows, would have been the lowest-ranked US Open men's finalist since the rankings began in 1973.
The Bulgarian was the lowest-ranked Slam semifinalist in 11 years and the lowest at the US Open since 174th-ranked Jimmy Connors in 1991.
US Open fans gave solid applause to Medvedev. They had booed Medvedev in the 3rd and 4th rounds after he flashed an obscene gesture and later taunted them, saying he thrived on their jeers for the energy to win. He later apologized.
Medvedev broke at love to start the match and saved 2 break points to hold the 2nd game, but Dimitrov broke back in the 4th game and they held into a tense tiebreak that Medvedev won after Dimitrov netted a forehand and sent another long on the last 2 points of the 1st set.
Dimitrov broke to open the 2nd set when Medvedev smacked a backhand long but the Russian broke back at love in the 2nd game and broke again for a 3-1 lead on a crisp crosscourt backhand winner.
Dimitrov answered with a forehand winner on his fourth break chance of the 5th game but Medvedev converted on his next break chance in the 10th game and took the set when Dimitrov netted a backhand.
Medvedev broke for a 3-1 lead in the 3rd set and held to the finish, which came on a service winner after 2 hours and 38 minutes. – Rappler.com