Novak Djokovic downed Gael Monfils to reach a seventh US Open final Friday after a semi-final in which the Frenchman was roundly booed and accused of not trying.
The world number one and defending champion won 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 and will face Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s final where he will bid to win a third major of 2016 and 13th of his career.
But his 13th win in 13 meetings with the mercurial Frenchman will go down as one of the oddest in Grand Slam history.
In a match of high drama and controversy, Monfils was jeered for an apparent lack of effort as he threatened to capitulate in straight sets.
“The first question is like you’re not competing. Yes, I’m competing,” insisted Monfils to reporters after the match.
Djokovic, the 2011 and 2015 champion, needed treatment on each shoulder, including a medical timeout in the fourth set, as crushing humidity of 60 percent took its toll.
At one stage, the Frenchman even called for a can of cola to help summon an extra level of energy while Djokovic went into Incredible Hulk mode by ripping off his shirt in frustration on dropping the third set.
Monfils finished with 52 unforced errors while having to save 12 of 20 break points.
Djokovic will start as favourite in the final, holding a 19-4 lead over Wawrinka.
WAWRINKA BOOKS PLACE IN US OPEN FINAL
Third-seeded Stan Wawrinka carved out a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori to set up a title clash with world number one Novak Djokovic.
Wawrinka withstood an early onslaught from sixth-seeded Nishikori, asserting himself in the later stages despite the toll taken on both players in draining humidity on Arthur Ashe stadium court.
Coming into the semis he’d spent 14 hours 47 minutes on court, a figure that swelled with his three-hour, seven-minute win over Nishikori.
Nishikori, coming off his own five-set quarter-final triumph over world number two Andy Murray, seized the initiative with a near flawless first set, breaking Wawrinka for a 3-2 lead and closing it out with an ace on set point.
He broke Wawrinka again to open the second, but the Swiss was gradually beginning to find his range and broke back to level the set at 2-2.
Trailing 0-40 in the seventh game, Wawrinka was able to save five break points to hold and knotted the match at two sets apiece with a break in the 12th game.
After taking the third and breaking Nishkori at love for a 2-0 lead in the fourth, Wawrinka appeared to be on his way.
But he found himself down 0-40 in the fifth game and after the Swiss saved two break points Nishikori had it back on serve when Wawrinka fired a backhand wide.
The defeat ended 26-year-old Nishikori’s hopes of improving on his runner-up finish to Marin Cilic in the 2014 final at Flushing Meadows.