Novak Djokovic is through to his fourth consecutive US Open final but the world No 1 had to survive a barrage of bold attacking play from Stanislas Wawrinka before winning a ferociously competitive semi-final 2-6 7-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 here last night.
Wawrinka, right, who had knocked out Andy Murray in the previous round, was playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final, but the 28 year-old Swiss stretched Djokovic to the limit for the second time this year, having lost a five-hour marathon to him at the Australian Open in January.
Djokovic, who in tomorrow's final will meet either Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet, looked out of sorts in the early stages but recovered to reach his third Grand Slam final of the year.
In his first five matches Djokovic had lost only one set and dropped his serve just five times, but within 34 minutes here he was a set down, having been broken three times.
Wawrinka, who has enjoyed his best year, broke again to lead 3-2 in the second set, after which Djokovic was given a code violation for receiving on-court coaching from his player box. The Serb is nothing if not a fighter, however, and after levelling at 4-4 he dominated the tie-break, which he won 7-4.
Wawrinka won the third set with a single break to love in the eighth game before Djokovic took the fourth after going into a 3-0 lead. However, with Wawrinka taking a medical time-out for what appeared to be an abdominal problem and receiving a code violation and a point deduction for smashing his racket, the tide seemed to be turning against the Swiss.
Nevertheless he dug deep to hold serve in a titanic 21-minute game at the start of the decider. After the 12th deuce, both men pumped up an already animated crowd, who gave them a standing ovation. Two games later, however, Djokovic made the last, decisive break as Wawrinka hit a weary backhand beyond the baseline. He went on to complete victory with an ace after more than four hours.
Murray leads Davis Cup assault
John McEnroe thinks that Andy Murray should take a month's break following his US Open setback, but the Scot will be back on court just eight days after his quarter-final defeat. Murray will be the key man for Britain's Davis Cup team in next weekend's play-off against Croatia in Umag, where a place in the World Group is at stake.
Murray, who will be making his first Davis Cup appearance for two years, could play on all three days. Although Leon Smith could yet change his line-up, Britain's captain has announced a four-man squad that includes only one doubles specialist, Colin Fleming, who reached last month's Montreal Masters final in partnership with Murray. Dan Evans and James Ward are rivals for the No 2 singles spot.
In the absence of Marin Cilic, who has not played since unconfirmed reports of a failed drugs test, Croatia will rely heavily on Ivan Dodig, the world No 38 in singles.
Murray's doubles participation will depend on his opening singles rubber. "I won't play if I have a four-hour match, because we have guys good enough to step in and win," he said. "But if I'm fit and fresh after the first day – and Colin and I played well a few weeks ago – that would be the best chance to win the match."