Rafael Nadal needed just a second-set tiebreaker to squash any chance No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet held for a come-from-behind upset on Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the U.S. Open.
Now in line for his second career U.S. Open title, the 27-year-old Nadal won in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2. He advanced to his 18th career Grand Slam final, tying Pete Sampras for third-most all-time.
Nadal will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a much-anticipated match up. The Serb survived an epic four-hour, five-set gauntlet earlier in the day against No. 9 Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, winning 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Gasquet rebounded after losing the first set by handing Nadal his first break of the tournament, going up 2-1. Before then, Nadal held an incredible consecutive-service streak of 73 in a row. However Gasquet’s triumph was short lived, as Nadal proved resilient and saved four-of-five break points in the first two sets.
Nadal improved his career record against Gasquet to 11-0 all-time, and is now 21-0 on hard court this year. Even with eye-popping numbers like those, should Nadal beat Djokovic in the finals, the Serb will still retain his No. 1 ranking.
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Djokovic is responsible for one of Nadal's three losses this year, which came in Monaco back in April. Otherwise, Nadal holds the all-time edge with a 21-15 record, including two victories this year. It is also Nadal's third U.S. Open final, and all have been against Djokovic. Nadal's lone victory came in 2010.