NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal cruised through a 6-2 opening set against Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final Monday, leaving him two sets away from his 13th major title.
Second-seeded Nadal broke top-seeded Djokovic in the third game, then again in the seventh, while holding all four of his service games to make it 85 of 86 for the tournament.
This is the 37th meeting between the men — the most in the Open era. It's also their third U.S. Open final; Nadal won in 2010 and Djokovic in 2011.
Djokovic opened the Grand Slam season with the title in Australia, while Nadal won his eighth French Open title in June.
Only once in last 20 years has the first-set loser gone on to win the U.S. Open final — in 2009, when Juan Martin del Potro came from behind to beat Roger Federer.
Djokovic is coming off a five-set win over Stanislas Wawrinka in a semifinal that took 4 hours, 9 minutes. He was in a similar situation in the Wimbledon final — playing Andy Murray two days after a five-set win in the semis. That day, in 80-degree weather, Djokovic looked tired and tried to end points early in what turned out to be a three-set loss to Murray.
The temperature for the U.S. Open final was 71 with a slight breeze kicking up as shadows enveloped the court inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. In the early going, Nadal was dealing with the wind more effectively. Djokovic had 14 unforced errors in the first set to four for Nadal.
Nadal came in a perfect 21-0 on hard court this year, while Djokovic has more wins than anyone on the surface, with 31.