Defending champion Novak Djokovic cruises into US Open final

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Stan Wawrinka, of Switzerland, reacts after beating Kei Nishikori, of Japan, during the semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, in NY.

In the US Open final Wawrinka, who has won the two grand slam finals he has contested will play Djokovic, who he beat to claim his French Open title.

Down a set and a break Friday, the third-seeded Wawrinka took control to oust Kei Nishikori 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2.

But perhaps the worst point of the match was played out not on the court but on ESPN as commentator and tennis legend John McEnroe called the black player "unprofessional" at various points during the commentary.

This was a feast for the fickle: If you didn't like what you were seeing at the U.S. Open in the men's semifinals, just wait a few minutes and let nature take its course.

Serving for the set, Monfils was down triple break point yet roared back to reel off five straight points snatching the game and a set with a screaming backhand victor. Kerber will be promoted to number one in the world when the curtain falls on the US Open, but it will still prove scant consolation if she fails to bring home the trophy.

Nishikori was the runner-up at Flushing Meadows in 2014.

"When I try a little bit to play "original" tennis is where he kill me", Monfils said.

Once again, Wawrinka clinched the set on Nishikori's serve when the Japanese lunged to hit a forehand volley on a rifled passing shot and sent it long.

A relieved Wawrinka let out a huge roar when he saved a break point at 4-4 and powered through five straight games to move a break up in the fourth.

Kei Nishikori's exhausted legs proved to be too much. High of 89. An evening shower forced the roof to close during the Wawrinka-Nishikori match.

With sapping conditions taking their toll on both men, it became a gruelling battle in the fourth set but Djokovic's experience eventually saw him through. "Roger, Novak. Rafael. To play in it this time is something special". Monfils, now 0-13 against Djokovic, spent most of his news conference defending his unusual approach and said he knew he might try it.

"Stan is a big match player", Djokovic said when asked about the Swiss, who has won his last 10 finals. You know, try to create something new for him, you know, to see. "And I try my best'". "What I got is my speed".

"At times in decisive, tense moments, we had many exchanges form the baseline", Djokovic said in his on-court interview. Behind 5-2 in the third against Monfils, Djokovic got his left shoulder massaged. I knew I could fight for three, four, five hours.

To defend the championship he won over Roger Federer here previous year, Djokovic will have to defeat No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka, who beat him to win the 2015 French Open.

Monfils - featuring in the semis of a major for just the second time - went down 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-2 to the world number one in NY. But Monfils came back to take the third set 6-3, and Djokovic got treatment on his shoulder during a couple of changeovers. That tank tactic helped him save three more set points then dragged Djokovic into the malaise as he double-faulted away the break.

Because this 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Gael Monfils, in which artistry at times equated to burlesque, seemed to be all about the Frenchman and the unconventional - if controversial - tactics he employed in his quest to knock off Djokovic. I watched the final so many times here, Roger, Novak, Rafa, they are fantastic champions. Monfils would appear to be limping at the end but is able to continue.

Humid: Djokovic survived the Monfils scare to make the final.

"He's very powerful, powerful player".