NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal won the third set of Monday's U.S. Open final 6-4 to take a two sets to one lead.
The crowd, fueled by refreshments during the long delay, grew more raucous as the third set got underway with fans imploring their player before every serve.
Nadal responded in the third game, hitting a sizzling backhand crosscourt winner and taking advantage of three loose Djokovic groundstrokes to break for a 2-1 lead.
The Spaniard turned up the pressure and threatened again in the fifth game but Djokovic saved three break points to hold. The Serb saved five more in the seventh game before holding for 3-4.
Nadal finished with a flourish by bracketing an ace with two service winners to close out the third set and move within a set of claiming the crown.
Novak Djokovic won the second set of Monday's U.S. Open final 7-5 against Rafa Nadal to level their match at one set all.
The sunshine that greeted the players on their arrival to Arthur Ashe Stadium gave way to overcast skies and the floodlights were switched on to brighten up the court.
The first three games of the second set went with service before Nadal suddenly lost his way, giving up 11 points in a row, including a vital service break.
Djokovic held, showing no signs of weariness after his exhausting five set semi-final win over Roger Federer, and consolidated the advantage when he held to love to lead 4-1.
But Nadal regained his composure and won the next three games in a row to level the set at 4-4 when a thunderstorm forced the match to be suspended.
Play resumed just under two hours later and after both players held their first service games, Djokovic broke Nadal to clinch the set after 70 minutes when the Spaniard made two successive errors.
Nadal won the opening set 6-4 after 50 minutes.
An entertaining opening point went to Djokovic on a backhand crosscourt winner following a lively rally, but the Serbian seemed bothered by his left ankle and lost the next four points to give Nadal a service break for a quick lead.
Djokovic shrugged off the problem, moving freely across the court, and brought the set back on serve by breaking the Spaniard in the fourth game, taking advantage of Nadal errors to draw level 2-2 on only the third break of serve against the world number one in the tournament.
Nadal came right back to regain the advantage. Djokovic fought off five break points in the fifth game before failing to handle a groundstroke blast to his forehand. Nadal pumped his fist and Djokovic destroyed his racket with two angry bashes on the ground that drew him a code violation for racket abuse.
The top seed served out the opening set at 15 when third-seeded Djokovic sent a backhand long.
Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue