World no.2 Novak Djokovic defeated NextGen ATP American Ben Shelton 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4) on Friday at Flushing Meadows to earn a berth in Sunday’s US Open final.

The 36-year-old Belgrade native finished off the win in the afternoon semi-final clash on Arthur Ashe Stadium after two hours and 39 minutes of play.

Novak broke once in the first set, twice in the second, and opened the third set with an early break. It was plain sailing for the Serbian star until 4-2, when Shelton raised his level and won three games in a row. Novak had to save a set point before holding for 5-all. He broke his rival again and served for the victory, when the 20-year-old fought back once again to level and force a tie-breaker. Djokovic won it 7-4.

“These are kind of matches and occasions that I still thrive on, and get me going and inspire me every day to try and work as hard as the young guys. Grand Slams are the ones that motivate me the most to play my best tennis. I knew prior to the quarters that I would play an American and that is never easy. To control the nerves and be composed in the moments that matter. Today things were going really smoothly for me and then he broke back and it was anyones game at the end of the third set. This is the kind of atmosphere we all like to play in, so I am really, really pleased with this win today. Another Grand Slam final, I can’t be happier,” Novak said after the win.

Match statistics: aces (5-5), double faults (3-5), winners (28-30), unforced errors (25-43), total points won (111-89).

Novak will face 2021 titlist Daniil Medvedev for the US Open title on Sunday.

The third seed from Russia beat the top seed and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to advance to his third final at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Djokovic, the 23-time major champion, will reclaim no.1 in the ATP Rankings on September 11 for a record-extending 390th week, regardless of his ultimate result in New York.

Novak has won four titles this season, including two majors, the Australian Open and Roland Garros. He will battle for a record-extending 24th Grand Slam title.

Photo: AP

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