SPORTS

Excited Nadal reaches first U.S. Open final

By Larry Fine

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.

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.

MOMENT OF CONCERN

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.

"Maybe he was a little bit more tired than me, he played longer matches than me, maybe that's why," said Nadal, who swept into the final without the loss of a set.

Said Youzhny, who reached the semi-finals with a five-set win over Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka after a pair of four-set battles: "I cannot say I'm really tired, but I was not fast enough today.

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 Frank Pingue)