Novak Djokovic played the spoiler as he beat Roger Federer in five dramatic sets Saturday to set up a US Open final against Rafael Nadal.
The third-seeded Serb saved two match points in the final set as he earned a 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 win over the five-time champion, denied a seventh straight final in New York.
Top seed Nadal was barely tested in a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 dismissal of Mikhail Youzhny for a place in his first career final at Flushing Meadows.
The win was the first over Federer in New York in four years for Djokovic, who lost the 2007 final to the Swiss and the next two years of semi-finals.
Federer went down after three and three quarter hours on a forehand wide, the first match point for Djokovic.
"I was just closing my eyes and hitting forehands as hard and as fast as i could," said the Serb. "If it goes in, great. If it's out, just another loss to Roger Federer in New York. I was very lucky, it was just a few points that determined the winner.
"I will try and get myself ready for the final. Rafa is playing great, the best in the world right now. He deserved this final. I will do my best to recover and give my best challenge to him Sunday."
Nadal and Federer had been expected to contest the historic final as the Spaniard aims to polish his career record.
New York is the only one of the majors that eight-time Grand Slam champion has not won.
"This is another step in my career, so for sure is a very important victory for me," Nadal said. "To be in the final of the last Grand Slam of the year is something new, because I always arrived here with problems.
"I think I can say I did a very good tournament. Having three sets match and two hours, or a little bit more, of the match always is great, no? I'm gonna be in perfect conditions tomorrow, so that's very positive."
Nadal dominated 12th seed Youzhny as he avenged a 2006 loss in New York to the Russian, who played his only other Grand Slam semi that year. Nadal now stands 11-3 in final-four matches at the majors.
Nadal becomes the first Spanish finalist at the event since Juan Carlos Ferrero, who lost to Andy Roddick in 2003.
Nadal won his 20th match in a row at a Grand Slam after taking titles at Roland Garros (his fifth) and Wimbledon (his second) this season.
Youzhny had been looking to become the first Russian to reach the final at a Grand Slam since Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open.
"This year, I didn't show my really best tennis, and I am in the semi-final," said the Russian. "This is good. Maybe if I can show my really best tennis, maybe I can do something more. If you lose the match you cannot be really happy. But actually it was good tournament for me."
Federer started well against Djokovic, whom he now owns 16-5, but had letdowns in the second and fourth sets as the Serb refused to roll over.
The Swiss with 16 Grand Slam titles was unable to convert on his two match points leading 5-4 in the fifth. He then dropped serve for 5-6 against Djokovic before the fighting Serb served out the triumph.