NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal reached his first U.S. Open final, earning the chance to achieve a grand slam of ‘Big Four’ victories, 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 next faces five-times champion Roger Federer or third-seeded Serb Novak Djokovic.
Nadal, armed with a stronger serve and more precise volleys, will try to add the U.S. crown to his grand slam haul of five French Opens, two Wimbledons and an Australian Open title.
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.
Nadal sailed through the first set facing just one break point and allowed only three points against serve in the second despite a moment of concern.
During the changeover at 3-2 he had his left foot retaped and a bandage placed to ease discomfort from a blister.
The left-hander showed no sign of ill effects and broke Youzhny in the eighth game before serving out the set.
The 28-year-old Russian brought the third set level on serve in the eighth game with an overhead smash that accounted for only the second service game lost by Nadal in the tournament.
Nadal, however, wasted no time regaining the advantage, seizing the opportunity after a bad backhand volley miss by Youzhny to blast an irretrievable forehand into the corner to go ahead 5-4.
Now Nadal will set his sights on becoming the seventh player to achieve a career grand slam, and the first since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open crowns in the same year.
Editing by Tony Jimenez