Excited Nadal reaches first U.S. Open final

Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:05pm EDT
 
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal reached his first U.S. Open final, earning the chance to complete a career grand slam of major tennis titles, by routing Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-2 6-3 6-4 on Saturday.

After blasting a service winner to end the match with a love game, 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 center 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."

The top seed will face third-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who upset five-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland in five sets, 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 7-5.

Nadal, armed with a stronger serve and more precise volleys since falling in the semi-finals of the last two U.S. Opens, will try to add the U.S. crown to his grand slam haul of five French Opens, two Wimbledons and an Australian Open title.

Youzhny entered the match trailing Nadal 7-4 in their head-to-head series, but was 1-0 against him at the U.S. Open, having beaten him in four sets in the 2006 quarter-finals, and 4-3 against him on hard courts.

The world number one was not to be denied on a sunny day at the National Tennis Center, dominating the 12th-seeded Youzhny in all facets by belting 23 winners and committing just 19 unforced errors.   Continued...

 
<p>Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return to Mikhail Youzhny of Russia during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 11, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>