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Djokovic past Monfils to his seventh US Open final

On occasions during the match he stood inside the baseline airily slicing first serves back to Djokovic - a tactic that left plenty of people scratching their heads - but in his mind, there was nothing wrong with that approach. The Frenchman was unable to keep up his momentum in the fourth and both men looked exhausted as Djokovic pushed through to reach his third Grand Slam final of the year.

In the background, the tennis had improved, Djokovic producing a scintillating repost to Monfils' deep forehand which nearly defied physics with its precision and angle.

"Gael is one of the best athletes on the tour and he made it extremely tough but I'm glad we managed to put on a great match".

Djokovic raced to a 5-0 lead and earned a set point after all of 19 minutes, but Monfils held there. "It was a very quick 5-0".

The crowd were not impressed, however, and began to boo early in the third when Monfils faced two break points and then double faulted. Monfils erased it with an ace and on game point, chased down a volley and put it away easily to finally get a game on the scoreboard to start a weird switch of momentum. Monfils makes nine of 10.

On an evening so humid his racket slipped out of his hand during one swing, Wawrinka never panicked.

He crept over the line, with Monfils blowing two break points to bring it back on serve, before easing through the second set.

After that, Djokovic has defeated Monfils 12 consecutive times, including the 6-3, 6-2 result, in Toronto. When they met here over five sets 11 years ago, Monfils complained Djokovic's four stoppages for cramp constituted gamesmanship.

Monfils is on an impressive 19-2 run since Wimbledon but admits he's the underdog against Djokovic, the 2011 and 2015 champion playing in a 10th successive semi-final in NY. Monfils stopped being aggressive on his returns and groundstrokes. The Serb then broke to love with the assistance of three failed serve-volley attempts from Monfils that ended up in the net. Maybe Monfils got in Djokovic's head, because miscue after miscue started coming from that side of the court.

"He started using his backhand a little bit more down the line and with angles".

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"He was five-love down with his game and he mixed it up". But Monfils held there to 5-1, then transitioned into what either appeared to be an attempt to "tank" — in other words, lose on goal, for who knows what reason — or the tennis equivalent of a "rope-a-dope", in which he wanted to appear not to be interested in defending against Djokovic but then would whip a big shot of his own.

Djokovic ripped his white shirt off as he dropped the third set. Monfils won four games in a row with the kind of electric shot-making that makes him such a popular figure. But this was Kerber's turn to show some mettle, breaking back to 3-all and again to end it.

Two-time US Open champion Djokovic wasted no time in taking charge of the second set, opening up a 5-1 advantage and Monfils limped back to his chair after he went two sets down with a whimper.

Monfils was 0-40 down in his first service game of the fourth as well - and dug that one too. "I will try to take this challenge".

Although Djokovic saved one set point, and gave himself three break chances in the ninth game, Monfils was able to extend the match, marking the moment with a mighty roar to which Djokovic responded by ripping off his shirt.

The Serb had a medical timeout at the change of ends as he had his right shoulder worked on by the trainer.

But Djokovic broke again for a 4-2 lead and then closed out the match by breaking Monfils with a forehand victor.

Djokovic is the defending champion at the US Open, having won the tournament in 2015.

Djokovic had benefitted from three retirements en route to the semi-finals and question marks about his fitness remain after he took regular treatment on both shoulders in the latter stages.

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