Defending champion Novak Djokovic defeated Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 on Friday to reach the seventh US Open final of his career.
The world number one from Serbia, trying to become the first man to win back-to-back titles at Flushing Meadows since Roger Federer won five straight from 2004-08, will face either third-seeded Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland or sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, the 2014 runner-up, in Sunday's championship match.
Djokovic, the No. 1 seed and defending champion, dipped in form in the third set, and had a trainer massage his left shoulder and, later, his right shoulder. Djokovic entered this match enjoying the easiest path to a major semifinal in the nearly half-century of the Open era- Three of his first five foes either stopped playing or pulled out of the tournament entirely because of injuries.
Then came this contest, which topped them all for oddness, drawing some jeers and whistles from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium- The 10th-seeded Monfils, normally a showman and in only the second Grand Slam semifinal of his career, seemed to just give up at times.
Gael Monfils has come to play, suddenly, while Novak Djokovic is getting his left shoulder massaged, as they head to a fourth set in their unusual U.S. Open semifinal.
Djokovic took the first two sets 6-3, 6-2, and went up 2-0 in the third, with Monfils appearing barely interested at times. But Monfils came back to take the third set 6-3, and Djokovic got treatment on his shoulder during a couple of changeovers.
Djokovic ripped his white shirt off as he dropped the third set.