Nadal outguns Murray to set up Djokovic title clash

New York: Defending champion Rafael Nadal booked a US Open title showdown against world number one Novak Djokovic on Saturday with a bruising 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over British fourth seed Andy Murray.

Nadal, the second seed, will be playing in his 14th Grand Slam final on Monday in what will be a repeat of last year`s final where he became the youngest man to complete a career Grand Slam.

"I played my best match of this US Open today," said Nadal, the winner of 10 Grand Slam titles, after completing his 13th win in 17 meetings with Murray.

"I have played Novak five times this year, all in finals, and lost them all. I hope to have better luck this time and I hope New York will help me."

Nadal made sure he could get the majority of support in the final by taking time to remember the victims of the September 11 attacks, ahead of the 10th anniversary on Sunday.

"I just want to send all of my support to the families of the victims of September 11th. I have terrible memories of that day," said the Spaniard, whose victory Saturday was helped by Murray committing 55 unforced errors to his 23.

Defeat for Murray, who reached the semifinals of all four Grand Slams in 2011, means that Britain`s long wait for a first major winner since Fred Perry in 1936 goes on.

"Anyone playing Rafa, you`re gonna play a lot of long rallies. So if you can get some opportunities to try and shorten the points, then it would be good to do that," said Murray, the 2008 runner-up.

"Once I went behind, I realized that wasn`t working. I was playing longer rallies. Physically I felt decent considering the circumstances. We had quite a lot of points and long games. I needed to be much more patient."

Nadal was in control from the start in a low-key first set, serving three love games, breaking in the eighth and claiming the opener when an off-colour Murray netted an easy backhand.

Murray squandered three break points in the second game of the second set which opened the door for the champion to again seize the initiative with a break for 3-2 when the fourth seed unleashed a loose forehand.

The world number two and French Open champion was quickly two sets to love ahead when he went to set point with an ace and clinched it when Murray again dumped a lazy backhand into the net.

But Murray finally managed to break for a 2-0 in the third set following a gruelling 28-shot rally.

The pair exchanged a 34-shot duel in the third game which Murray edged, but the Scot again failed to press home his advantage as a double fault handed Nadal a break point which he converted thanks to another netted groundstroke.

But Nadal was broken to trail 3-5 and Murray pounced on his opportunity to take the third set 6-3.

Nadal fought off a break point in the third game of the fourth set to lead 2-1, his defiance quickly rewarded with a 3-1 lead.

Murray, appearing to feel discomfort in his back, was under siege but he saved three more break points in the sixth game as a hold each gave Nadal a 5-2 lead.

The champion took victory when the Scotsman`s challenge finally wilted with a backhand jab which sailed wide.

Bureau Report

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