|Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning his semi-final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the U.S. Open in New York on September 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)
FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. - Novak Djokovic continued his amazing season Saturday with a stunning rally to beat Roger Federer in a thrilling five-set semifinal at the U.S. Open.
Up next for the Serbian star is another showdown with Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic came back from two sets down and also saved two match points in the fifth set to pull out a 6-7 (7-9), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 triumph, as he tries to add the U.S. Open crown to his Australian Open and Wimbledon titles from earlier this year.
Nadal secured his spot in the final with a 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory against fourth-seeded Scotsman Andy Murray. The victory set up a rematch from last year's Open championship final, which Nadal won in four sets to complete his career slam.
The top-seeded Djokovic gained a chance to face Nadal again only after gutting out the win against Federer, who squandered two match points against Djokovic in last year's semis. On Saturday he found himself in an identical situation.
Djokovic double-faulted to give Federer three break points in the eighth game of the fifth set and the Swiss superstar needed only one when Djokovic drilled a forehand wide.
Federer quickly opened a 40-15 lead for two match points, but Djokovic came up with a brilliant forehand winner off a Federer first serve and caught a break when the 16-time Grand Slam champ hit a forehand that clipped the net.
A Federer ace then saved one break point soon after, but he followed up with a forehand into the net to give Djokovic a second break point and immediately gave it away with a double-fault. Djokovic then held easily for 5-5 and with renewed vigor came up with a pair of forehand winners in the next game -- one to set up a break point and the next to convert it.
Federer appeared deflated and netted a forehand to give Djokovic his first match point. He only needed the one, as Federer's backhand return of a first serve sailed long to end the three-hour, 51-minute marathon.
It was another stunning defeat for Federer, who fell to 182-2 when taking a two-sets-to-none lead in a Grand Slam match. The other loss came just two months ago at the All England Club, when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did the unthinkable in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
After rain delayed the start of play for about an hour, the first 13 points of the match went to the server. Neither player faced a break point during the opening set and Federer took advantage of a couple of Djokovic mistakes to open a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak. Djokovic, though, eventually saved three straight set points and still another before Federer finally converted on his fifth chance with a deep backhand that led to a Djokovic forehand into the net.
Federer gained the first two break points of the match in the third game of the second set with a backhand winner. Djokovic, though, saved both before Federer converted on his third with a forehand winner for a 2-1 lead.
Djokovic finally earned a break point in the sixth game and quickly converted when Federer pushed a forehand wide to even the set at 3-3. Federer, though, regrouped immediately and broke at love to regain the advantage, then held serve to capture the set.
Things quickly changed.
Djokovic broke serve for a 2-0 lead in the third set and didn't face a break point on his serve to force a fourth set. He then broke again to start the fourth and came up with another break to easily send the match to a decisive fifth set.
Nadal's match never got that far, as Murray committed 54 unforced errors and had a first-serve percentage of only 53.
The second-seeded Nadal gained the upper hand in the fourth set with a break in the fourth game. Murray's baseline shot went long, giving Nadal a 3-1 lead.
Nadal held to extend his advantage, and eventually led 5-2 with triple match point and Murray serving. The Spaniard clinched the victory after hitting a backhand slice along the alley line, which Murray returned slightly wide.
Nadal is aiming for his 11th career Grand Slam title, but will encounter a different Djokovic than he faced last year.
Djokovic has been tennis' hottest player this season. He is 63-2 with nine titles, including five in which he beat Nadal in the championship match -- Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome and Wimbledon.
Overall, Nadal is 16-12 against Djokovic, but hasn't beaten him since round- robin play during last year's ATP World Tour Finals.