|Nadal, pictured, defeated Mikhail Youzhny to reach his first US Open final [AFP]|
Rafael Nadal has reached his first US Open final, earning the chance to achieve a grand slam of
“Big Four” victories, by routing Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-2 6-3 6-4.
After blasting a service winner to end the match with a love game on Saturday, the 24-year-old Spaniard leapt up and punched the air.
“To me it’s a dream. I’m going to play for the first time in the final here in the biggest centre court in the world,” Nadal told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.
“I have tried my best for a lot of years. So now after a lot of work I am here and I’m happy for that.”
Nadal, armed with a stronger serve and more precise volleys, will try to add the US crown to his grand slam haul of five French Opens, two Wimbledons and an Australian Open title.
The world number one was not to be denied on a sunny day at the National Tennis Centre, dominating the 12th-seeded Youzhny in all facets by belting 23 winners and committing just 19
Moment of concern
Nadal sailed through the first set facing just one break point and allowed only three points against serve in the second despite a moment of concern.
During the changeover at 3-2 he had his left foot retaped and a bandage placed to ease discomfort from a blister. The left-hander showed no sign of ill effects and broke Youzhny in the eighth game before serving out the set.
The 28-year-old Russian brought the third set level on serve in the eighth game with an overhead smash that accounted for only the second service game lost by Nadal in the tournament.
Nadal, however, wasted no time regaining the advantage, seizing the opportunity after a bad backhand volley miss by Youzhny to blast an irretrievable forehand into the corner to go ahead 5-4.
The top seed next faces third-seeded Serb Novak Djokovic, who upset five-times champion Roger Federer in an epic semi-final at the US Open on Saturday.
Djokovic saved two match points in a nail-biting fifth set and completed a stunning victory to advance to his second final at Flushing Meadows after finishing runner-up to Federer in 2007.
Federer, bidding for his seventh straight appearance in the final at New York, went into the match as the favourite after getting to the last four without dropping a set but struggled with his serve and failed to convert his two late opportunities to clinch the victory.
A day earlier, Belgian Kim Clijsters advanced to her fourth US Open final after winning a titanic centre court battle against Venus Williams. A third title is now within her reach.
The only person left standing in her way is Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, who upset the tournament’s number one seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-3 on Friday to reach her first singles final in New York.
|Clijsters, pictured, advanced to her fourth US Open final after a battle against Venus Williams [AFP]|
Clijsters had to work much harder to earn her place in Saturday’s final but got there in the end, defeating the former world number one 4-6 7-6 6-4 after they slugged it out for almost two and a half hours.
Meanwhile, in the men’s doubles, the American twins Mike and Bob Bryan clinched their ninth grand slam title with a 7-6 7-6 victory over Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi in the men’s doubles final, leaving them just two shy of the record of Australians Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge.
But it was the runners-up, an unlikely pairing from India and Pakistan, who charmed the centre court crowd, including their respective ambassadors to the US who sat side-by-side in the stands watching the match.
“It’s just a match and it’s just a game,” Mike Bryan said afterwards. “A lot of people in Pakistan don’t have homes and are out on the street.
“What these guys are doing bringing India and Pakistan together is very special. It shows that sport can bring people together.”