NEW YORK --Rafael Nadal moved to the brink of a 19th career Grand Slam title on Friday, Sept. 6, by beating Matteo Berrettini 7-6(6) 6-4 6-1 to reach the U.S. Open final.
Nadal put pressure on the underdog Italian's serve from the start but Berrettini saved six break points to set up a first set tie breaker.
Berrettini raced out to a 4-0 lead thanks to some uncharacteristically sloppy play from the Spaniard and the 23-year-old had two set points at 4-6.
But Berrettini suddenly got tight and Nadal took advantage, wearing him down in the extended baseline rallies and capturing the set when the Italian sent a forehand long for his 20th unforced error, leading Nadal to let out a roar.
Nadal broke Berrettini on his 10th opportunity to take a 4-3 lead in the second set and cruised to the finish, absorbing Berrettini's powerful forehands and redirecting them to his weaker backhand side to see off the first time slam semi-finalist.
Next up for Nadal is a showdown with big-serving Russian Medvedev, who was a straight sets winner over Grigor Dimitrov earlier in the day. The pair's only previous meeting took place in the final of last month's Rogers Cup in Montreal, where Nadal was a 6-3 6-0 winner.
If second-seeded Nadal wins the final he will be just one shy of Roger Federer's record of 20 men's Grand Slam titles.
Medvedev sweeps Dimitrov
Russia's Daniil Medvedev reached a Grand Slam final for the first time in his career by sweeping past Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 on Friday in the semifinals of the U.S. Open.
Fifth-seeded Medvedev is just the second Russian man to reach the U.S. Open final. Marat Safin won the 2000 crown by defeating Pete Sampras in three sets.
Medvedev will be playing in his fourth consecutive final and seventh of the year. He is 20-2 during his recent four-tournament run in North America, winning at Cincinnati and losing in the final at Washington and Montreal. The defeat in Montreal was to Nadal.
Medvedev had 10 aces among 22 winners while overcoming 40 unforced errors. The unseeded Dimitrov had 39 winners -- just two aces -- and 46 unforced errors.
Medvedev let two match points slip away in the eighth game of the third set as Dimitrov remained alive. But the Russian finished off his 50th match win of the year in the next game, and he has won his past 12 matches.
The second set was tied at 3-3 and 4-4 before Medvedev won the final two games.
Field Level Media contributed to this report.