Nadal took out eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 in Saturday's U.S. Open semifinals after Djokovic rallied for a 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 decision over ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka.
That left Djokovic and Nadal to play for the U.S. Open title Monday. It is the third time they will have met at the U.S. Open and third time it's in the championship match.
It also means that Djokovic can't be caught -- yet -- as the top-ranked player in the world. Nadal, however, will be pulling tantalizingly close and will likely retake the top spot as the season winds down.
Nadal, No. 2 in the rankings, won his U.S. Open title over Djokovic in four sets in 2010 to complete his career Grand Slam. Djokovic beat Nadal in four sets the following year for his first U.S. Open championship.
Overall Nadal owns a 21-15 series advantage over Djokovic. Sixteen of those 36 matches have been in finals, with both players winning eight times.
Nadal is 2-1 versus Djokovic this year, winning semifinals in Montreal and the French Open while Djokovic took the title match in Monaco.
Nadal is a remarkable 59-3 this year with nine tournament titles -- including his eighth French Open championship -- and two seconds.
Djokovic is a very healthy 50-8 in 2013 and has three championships, including his threepeat at the Australian Open in January. He is in the U.S. Open final for a fourth consecutive year and fifth time overall.
Nadal is 1-1 in U.S. Open title matches. Counting Monday, all three of his finals appearances in New York are against Djokovic.
"It is good if both of us are playing at a very high level so the match becomes great because we play long rallies, we bring our game and it becomes a very difficult match for both of us," Nadal said Saturday of playing Djokovic. "I hope to be ready for that. I'm going to try. I need to keep playing very aggressive and play a very, very good match. Only like this I'm going to have a chance."
"He's the ultimate competitor out there," Djokovic said of Nadal. "He's fighting for every ball and he's playing probably the best tennis that he ever played on hard courts.
"With no doubt he's the best player in the moment this year, no question about it. The way he's been playing he's very confident but I know how to play him.
"Hard court is the surface that, as I said, is my most successful surface. I have played him already here twice in the finals. I know what I need to do."
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