Calling it his best match of the tournament, Rafael Nadal ousted Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to advance to the US Open final for a second straight year. Nadal is now just three sets from a first non-clay title defense, and on Monday he’ll face Novak Djokovic in a repeat of the 2010 championship.
Nadal dropped the first set of the tournament to Murray, but the Spaniard was firing from the get-go, bullying the Scot around the court with powerful groundstrokes and crisp winners.
“I had a few tough moments this summer, and I think every day I wake up with big motivation,” Nadal said. “I am playing very good level, I think every day better, and today I played my best match against a most difficult opponent.”
Nadal improves to 13-4 career against Murray including semifinal wins in the last three Majors. But Rafa knows Djokovic will be a different story.
“This year I lost last five matches against him, five finals,” Nadal said. “This will be the sixth. That’s an advantage for him. He’s obviously the favorite for the final, and I know I have to do something better than the other matches to try to change the situation.”
Despite the five losses this year, Nadal still leads Djokovic 16-12 in their head-to-head.
“I have my game, and I beat him in the past playing my game,” Nadal said. “The thing is play my game very well and be enough strong mentally all the time, fight every ball, believe in the victory in every moment. That’s something that for moments this year I didn’t.
“But just play aggressive, try to play a similar match than last year here. I saw that match a lot of times and I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I gonna be able to do it. So that’s always the same.”
Nadal added then mentally he’s hasn’t quite been there against Djokovic.
“I am not very happy about my mental performance against him this year,” he said. “That’s true, no? Because for moments I didn’t believe really 100% with the victory. That’s big problem. Because when that’s happening, you have your chances less, much less than if you believe. Because if you believe, you are running more, you are putting one more ball inside. So that was problem, and that’s what I gonna try to change for Monday. If I’m not ready to change for Monday, I have a goal to do it for next year. So I am ready to work hard. I am ready to work my tennis, to work my mental part, and hopefully I will ready for Monday.”
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