Djokovic downs Monfils to reach US Open final

Djokovic had three set points while serving at 5-1, 40-love, and Monfils transitioned into something that at first blush appeared to be "tanking" losing on objective, for who knows what reason but which he explained afterward was the tennis equivalent of Muhammad Ali's boxing "rope-a-dope", absorbing someone else's best shots and pretending to not be interested in attacking. After a short comeback attempt from the Frenchman, the opening set finally went the way of the defending champion.

Wawrinka withstood an early onslaught from sixth-seeded Nishikori, asserting himself in the later stages despite the toll taken on both players in draining humidity on Arthur Ashe stadium court.

Asked to describe the conditions on-court, Djokovic said: "Humid".

When McEnroe's comments were put to Monfils, he said: "I like John".

But Djokovic became unnerved and let Monfils come back to within 5-3.

No one was angered more than John McEnroe, who spent the vast majority of the match excoriating Monfils for the way he was playing on ESPN's broadcast of the match. Monfils erased it with an ace and on game point, chased down a volley and put it away easily to finally get a game on the scoreboard to start a freakish switch of momentum.

They dropped only one service game and won 71 percent of first-serve points against their unseeded opponents.

Wawrinka carried momentum into the fourth set and broke Nishikori at love in the second game.

Gael Monfils has come to play, suddenly, while Novak Djokovic is getting his left shoulder massaged, as they head to a fourth set in their unusual U.S. Open semifinal.

With Djokovic leading their US Open semifinal 5-0, an uninspired Monfils began hitting exceptionally casual returns, which clearly irked Djokovic, who saw four set points evaporate.

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One may wonder, now, however, whether Djokovic will be able to go the extra mile in the finals given Wawrinka's increasingly quick form and his own injuries and troubles in 2016.

"I am really excited, I want to enjoy the moment", he said. He said it was a tactic, trying to throw off the world No. 1, having started the match down 5-0.

It was just one of many twists in turns in a truly freakish match, one Djokovic would eventually win, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, after 2 hours 32 minutes in a match that left many confused - and some enraged - by the time it had ended. "That should be on my side. luckily, I managed to get it back". When Djokovic promptly broke Monfils' serve to start the third, the lack of a Monfils challenge had the demanding Ashe crowd loudly booing. So he transformed back into his entertaining, athletic self.

Miscue after miscue started coming from Djokovic, and Monfils won three games in a row, before eventually dropping a set for the first time all tournament. As Djokovic was serving to stay in the set he hit a couple of questionable drop shots from 40-15 up that Monfils chased down easily to bring him to deuce.

The second set followed more of the same pattern. "When I try a little bit to play "original" tennis, that is where he killed me". The world's No. 2 player battled hard but lost to the top-ranked Serena Williams 7-5, 6-3. The stroke of luck was appreciated by the Frenchman as he kissed the net in relief. "What I got is my speed".

The Serb had a medical timeout at the change of ends as he had his right shoulder worked on by the trainer.

By the end of the affair, Monfils finished with 52 unforced errors and had to save 12 of 20 break points.

Kerber won the toss and elected to receive, perhaps for two reasons: Her serve is the biggest question mark in her otherwise solid game, and it made sense to force Pliskova to deal with an early test of nerves.

Kerber is the first woman from Germany to win the U.S. Open - and the first to get to No. 1 - since her idol and mentor, Steffi Graf, who got in touch via text message before the final.

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