The US Open women's singles final delivered once again as a fascinating spectacle ended with an emerging star defeating arguably the greatest player to pick up a racquet.

Bianca Andreescu won her first grand slam title in her first main draw appearance at the US Open by denying Serena Williams a record-tying 24th major.

Andreescu claimed victory despite a furious comeback from Williams in a second set in which a deafening crowd attempted to will the American into forcing a decider.

There was a clear indicator of how much support Williams would have during her practice session prior to the showpiece.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.

 

FAN SOBS AT SERENA PRACTICE

Just a few hours before her clash with Andreescu, Williams took to the practice courts, briefly greeting men's finalist Rafael Nadal as he walked off following the end of his session.

The mere sight of the 23-time grand slam champion was too much to handle for one fan, who immediately began sobbing upon spotting the 37-year-old.

Unfortunately for Serena and her fans, it was to be a day that ended in tears.

MUTED CELEBRATIONS FOR MURRAY

Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands successfully defended their mixed doubles title, defeating top seeds Michael Venus and Chan Hao-ching in the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

There were no plans for major celebrations, however, with Mattek-Sands telling a media conference: "I'm making him drink some champagne out of the trophy, we're having some pizza. But he's leaving. It's not like we're partying till 4 a.m. tonight.

"Next time."

"Yeah, next year," Murray replied.

SYLVAIN SHARES THE GLORY

The Andreescu team was able to celebrate winning two trophies as, at an emotional ceremony after her media conference, the Canadian's coach Sylvain Bruneau was also presented with one.

Bruneau initially held the trophy the wrong way and apologised, joking: "I'm not used to holding trophies."

Andreescu's response perfectly encapsulated her remarkable confidence. "Well get used to it," said the champion.

On the evidence of Saturday, Bruneau can indeed look forward to watching his protege secure many more major titles.

It will be a familiar scenario for Rafael Nadal when he faces Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final on Sunday.

Nadal will be taking on a first-time grand slam finalist for the third successive year.

Six of Nadal's previous 26 major finals have been against debutants in that arena and the Spaniard has predictably dominated such matchups.

Here we look back at the 18-time grand slam champion's record against first-timers ahead of what should be an intriguing battle with Medvedev.

 

2005 French Open v Mariano Puerta: Won 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5

Nadal's first major final saw him battle another debutant in Mariano Puerta at Roland Garros. The Argentinian took the first set in a tie-break but Nadal dominated from there to complete a 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5 win.

It would mark the start of nine French Open wins in 10 years as Nadal solidified his reputation as the King of Clay. Puerta, meanwhile, received a second suspension for a doping offence and never returned to such a stage.

2010 Wimbledon v Tomas Berdych: Won 6-3 7-5 6-4

Two years after he won arguably the greatest ever final at the All England Club by beating Roger Federer in five sets, Nadal enjoyed a much more serene victory in what still stands as Berdych's sole major final.

Nadal saw off Andy Murray in the semi-finals while Berdych had stunningly beaten Federer and then Novak Djokovic to progress to the final. However, he ran out of steam against Nadal in routine fashion.

2013 French Open v David Ferrer: Won 6-3 6-2 6-3

Nadal had to come through an epic five-setter with Djokovic in the last four to reach the final but still had far too much for his compatriot, losing just eight games across three sets.

The victory secured his eighth French Open title but he would have to wait four more years for La Decima.

2014 Australian Open v Stan Wawrinka: Lost 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3

Wawrinka had fallen just short in his previous grand slam, losing in the semi-finals at the 2013 US Open, but the Swiss was inspired in Melbourne as he defeated Djokovic in five sets in the quarter-finals and needed under two and a half hours to see off Nadal.

The Spaniard did win the third set to suggest a comeback was on the cards, but this was Wawrinka's day and he served the fourth out to win the first of three major titles.

2017 US Open v Kevin Anderson: Won 6-3 6-3 6-4

Nadal enjoyed a remarkable 2017, reaching three major finals after many thought his days of contending for slams were over.

He lost a five-set thriller to Federer in Australia before completing La Decima against Wawrinka in Paris.

A stunning year was rounded off in New York as the absence of Djokovic and Murray and Federer's quarter-final exit opened up the draw, with surprise package Anderson the beneficiary.

Nadal made light work of the big-serving South African, though, and faces another player who profited from an open draw on Sunday. Medvedev, however, promises to present a much stiffer challenge.

2018 French Open v Dominic Thiem: Won 6-4 6-3 6-2

The first of two meetings with the Austrian in the decider at Roland Garros was much more one-sided than the second, though he still needed two hours and 42 minutes to see off Thiem.

Thiem took a set off Nadal a year later in a rematch, indicating the possible start of an intriguing clay-court rivalry in the coming years.

If his performances at Flushing Meadows are any evidence, Nadal should see plenty more of Medvedev in the latter stages of his career.

Matteo Berrettini was proud of the bravery he displayed against Rafael Nadal in a US Open experience that has convinced him he "can be really dangerous".

World number 25 Berrettini's hopes of reaching a first grand slam final were dashed by a 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1 defeat to Nadal, who is one win away from his 19th major singles triumph – one fewer than Roger Federer's record.

The 23-year-old Italian, who has claimed two ATP Tour titles this year, was pleased with his run to the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows and the tennis he played, having struggled with an ankle injury since his fourth-round exit to Federer at Wimbledon.

Asked what he would take away from his efforts in New York, Berrettini said: "A lot of things, I guess. First of all, I'm still learning the tennis. It's really weird. I was coming here with not a lot of confidence. I was injured. I didn't play a good match in Cincinnati [in a loss against Juan Ignacio Londero]. I didn't expect to do such a great tournament.

"I'm learning to be ready. Every match is important. Every point is important – this one for sure. Then all the matches, you have to be focused and ready to get the chances that you're making.

"I think when I have the right attitude on the court, I can play with any guys. If I'm focusing, if I'm playing my tennis, I can be really dangerous. That's really important to have this confidence."

The meeting with Nadal could have gone very differently had Berrettini been able to convert either of the two set points that came his way in the opening tie-break.

"Winning the first set would have meant I think a lot. Especially with him, it's tough to go a set down after an hour, more than an hour, with him," he said.

"But I was feeling I was playing really good, even though he had a lot of chances on my serve. I think I played also good important points. I mean, I was brave, like I asked of myself.

"I couldn't say anything bad. I cannot complain about what I did. I was playing with Rafa, centre court, in the semis. I think it's okay."

Berrettini, who lost in straight sets and took just five games against Federer at Wimbledon, added: "The last time I played one of the big three [it] didn't go that well. The feelings I had on court for sure was an unbelievable experience. I didn't have so many chances. I think I learned a lot from the match in Wimbledon.

"I was more ready. I was feeling also that the next time I'm going to play Rafa, I'll be more ready because I didn't ever play him even in practice. I didn't know what to expect a lot.

"I think this match will help me a lot to improve my tennis, my everything, and for sure be ready for him the next time."

Rafael Nadal will unquestionably go down as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and another of the sport's legends was honoured at the US Open before his semi-final.

The man known as Rocket Rod received recognition for a feat no player has been able to replicate, before taking in Nadal's straight-sets win over Matteo Berrettini.

Nadal set up a final with Daniil Medvedev, who defeated Grigor Dimitrov, but the winner of their clash will have to go some way to match the celebrations that marked the end of the men's doubles showpiece.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.

 

GOOD WEATHER FOR DUCKS

Very little play was possible on the outside courts as heavy rain persisted throughout day 12.

Those dressed for warmer weather may have needed to make an emergency purchase to stay dry.

Thankfully the US Open shop has plenty of options for those needing to wrap up.

It is said rain is good weather for ducks and there are plenty of the rubber variety on offer for those looking to make the bizarre move of adding tennis memorabilia to their bathroom.

FARAH AND CABAL GO BACK TO BACK

Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal secured back-to-back grand slam titles at Arthur Ashe Stadium as the Colombian men's doubles team overcame Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos 6-4 7-5.

The crowd was filled with fans wearing Colombia national football team jerseys, who greeted the pair claiming match point with a huge roar.

Farah is expecting wilder celebrations when they return to their homeland, telling a post-match media conference: "The way Colombia received us when we came back from Wimbledon was really breathtaking. I don't even want to think about how crazy it's gonna be now that we come back from the US Open.

"I think that back-to-back is quite an achievement, and we just have to say, thank you, Colombia, for all that support and the good vibes they always give us. We are very happy to represent our country in the way that we are doing it."

ROCKET ROD HONOURED

Rod Laver has been in attendance throughout the tournament at Flushing Meadows, and on Friday the 50th anniversary of his second Grand Slam was celebrated.

Laver is the only man in history to win the calendar Grand Slam twice, his second coming at the 1969 US Open.

To honour that incredible achievement, Laver was presented with a replica of the US Open trophy and then with a plaque from representatives of all four major tournaments as the Arthur Ashe crowd came to its feet to show its appreciation for Rocket Rod.

Rafael Nadal will not be motivated by the thought of continuing the dominance of the 'big four' when he faces Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final, as he knows their era is reaching its twilight.

Nadal – 18-time grand slam champion – defeated Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1 in New York on Friday to progress to his 27th grand slam final.

Second seed Nadal will face a first-time major finalist for the third successive year in his meeting with Medvedev at Flushing Meadows, having beaten Kevin Anderson in New York in 2017 and Dominic Thiem at the French Open a year later.

Not since the 2016 US Open has a grand slam been won by somebody other than Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer – Stan Wawrinka emerging victorious in the final major of that season after Andy Murray prevailed at Wimbledon.

Medvedev, who is on an 12-match winning streak since losing to Nadal in the Rogers Cup final, will attempt to break that run and deny the Spaniard a 19th major.

The era of Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and to a lesser extent Murray, who is attempting to make a comeback following hip surgery, is regarded by many as the best in the history of tennis.

However, Nadal rejected the notion that he needs to win this weekend to keep their run alive, as he has already accepted a new generation is going to take over.

"We don't need to hold this era anymore," Nadal told a media conference. "We have been here for 15 years almost.

"At some point, these days, [it's] going to happen sooner than later that this era is going to end. It's arriving to the end. I am 33. Novak is 32. Roger is 38. Andy is 32, too.

"The clock is not stopping. That's part of the cycle of life.

"I'm not much worried about this because in tennis there are always going to be great champions."

A win for Nadal would see him move one behind Federer's record tally of 20 slams, with Djokovic four back on 16.

Asked if ending up with the record would be important to him, Nadal replied: "Yes. But I always say the same: we still playing. Here we are. When I arrived here, my goal was to produce a chance to compete for the big thing again. Here I am.

"I give myself another chance, as I did in Wimbledon, as I did in Australia, as I did in Roland Garros. That's the personal satisfaction. That's the personal happiness.

"You win, you lose. That's part of all the sport. Of course, I would love to be the one who achieve the most grand slams, but I still sleep very well without being the one who has the most grand slams.

"I am happy about my career. I am very happy about what I'm doing. I'm going to keep working hard to try to produce chances. Sunday is one. It's just one more chance, that's all.

"I would love to be the one to have more, yes, but you cannot be all day frustrated or all day thinking about what your neighbour has better than you. You have to be happy with yourself. 

"If you are the one to achieve more, fantastic. If not, at least I give my best during my career."

Daniil Medvedev's only meeting with Rafael Nadal was a chastening experience, but the Russian feels it was a valuable one as he prepares to renew acquaintances with the 18-time grand slam champion in the US Open final.

Medvedev faced Nadal at the Rogers Cup in his first ATP Masters 1000 final last month and was on the end of a thrashing as the Spaniard cruised to a 6-3 6-0 win in Montreal.

World number five Medvedev has not lost a match since and will now face Nadal in his maiden major decider following Friday's 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-3 victory over Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals.

Nadal is the heavy favourite for a match in which he will look to move one slam behind Roger Federer's record tally of 20.

However, Medvedev believes he can lean on what he learned from his heavy defeat in Canada as the 23-year-old plots to upset Nadal on Sunday.

"Talking about Rafa, it's tough to find words," Medvedev told a media conference. "So many players and so many people found them before me.

"He's one of the greatest champions in the history of our sport. He's just a machine, a beast on the court. The energy he's showing is just amazing.

"To play him in your first grand slam final should be, I want to say, a funny thing. It's not going to be a funny thing, but it's going to be an amazing thing to live."

Asked about his sole previous encounter with Nadal, Medvedev said: "It was a tough one. As I actually said, his energy was much higher than mine.

"I had one break point, then he got a break. Then he was only going harder, harder, faster, stronger, and I was only going down.

"It's great that I have this experience playing him in the final of a Masters. I know what to expect. I know how to prepare for it."

Rafael Nadal overcame a stubborn Matteo Berrettini to progress to his 27th grand slam final, where the second seed will meet Daniil Medvedev for the US Open title.

The eliminations of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have seen Nadal installed as the clear favourite in the men's singles, and he encountered little in the way of resistance en route to the last four at Flushing Meadows.

However, 18-time major champion Nadal was made to work harder than most would have thought against the big-serving Berrettini – who needed five sets to beat Gael Monfils in the previous round – in Friday's 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1 victory.

Berrettini was not as fatigued as expected following his near four-hour marathon with Monfils and he had opportunities to win what proved an absorbing first set.

He failed to take them, though, and his profligacy proved costly as Nadal took the first on a tie-break and then finally managed to find a way through the Italian, who saved the first nine break points he faced before cracking in the second.

That gave Nadal the foundation to complete a victory in two hours, 35 minutes, though improvements will need to be made if he is to win his fourth US Open title by beating the form player in the world in Medvedev.

Medvedev is unlikely to be as charitable as Berrettini, having played the key points excellently in his straight-sets win over Grigor Dimitrov, but the early signs from the Italian promised a difficult evening for Nadal.

Berrettini saved two break points in his first service game and three more in his second, serves of 132 and 125mph getting him out of jail before an unforced backhand error from Nadal.

His resolve looked set to be rewarded when he raced into a 4-0 lead in the tie-break, a drop volley - which he leaned on throughout the first set - bringing up set point on his serve.

It was a pair of poorly executed backhand volleys that saw him fail to take advantage of his two set points and the set was Nadal's when Berrettini overhit a forehand at the end of a long rally.

He was reliant on his massive forehand to stay on terms in the second as Nadal was continually frustrated on break point.

The dam was finally broken as the drop shot failed Berrettini and Nadal claimed the second thanks to an errant forehand from the number 24 seed.

Nadal immediately went ahead in the third as Berrettini's time on court this week caught up, but in the final the world number two will face a player in Medvedev who had two days rest before his semi-final and will be brimming with confidence as he bids to deny the Spaniard a 19th major title.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Rafael Nadal [2] bt Matteo Berrettini [24] 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 31/18
Berrettini – 37/44

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 4/4
Berrettini – 9/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 4/16
Berrettini – 0/0

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Nadal – 55
Berrettini – 67

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Nadal – 90/74
Berrettini – 66/44

TOTAL POINTS
Nadal – 111
Berrettini - 82

Grigor Dimitrov refused to be too hard on himself following a US Open semi-final defeat to Daniil Medvedev he felt was decided by the Russian's performance on a few key points.

Dimitrov sensationally knocked out Roger Federer in five sets in the quarter-finals to set up a clash with Medvedev, having come from two sets to one down to defeat the 20-time grand slam champion.

However, Dimitrov was not able to make the necessary breakthroughs when it mattered against world number Medvedev, who claimed a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-3 victory to progress to his first major final.

Dimitrov, though, felt the match was closer than the three-set scoreline suggested, with the Bulgarian left upbeat by a run few expected when he started the tournament ranked 78th in the world.

"It was just a few points here and there. Yeah, three sets to love, but, I mean, the score for me doesn't justify the match itself," Dimitrov told a media conference.

"I think it was a good level. Overall he played really well, fought hard, a lot of the key points he played well. I don't want to be too down on myself. Great weeks. First time in the semi-final out here.

"Just going to take a lot of the positives, for sure."

Dimitrov identified the set point he spurned in the first set by clanging a forehand into the net cord and wide as a key moment in the contest.

"As I said, I just didn't play good enough on those key points, especially I think the set point in the first set, I knew what he was going to do. He came up with the goods," added Dimitrov.

"Second set, again, I was not able to get free points on my serve, or on his for that matter. He used the court pretty well.

"For sure I'm critical of myself. I think absolutely I could have done better on certain occasions. Again, I don't want to go too deep right now on myself.

"I will definitely watch the match and see if I could have done any different in any type of situations. But I think, again, a few times it was 30-All, 30-15, [he] just came up with the goods. I came up to the net, it was either a pass or a really good ball, bottom line.

"So I had to go for something very difficult. In a sense, he was provoking me to miss certain shots that I usually wouldn't miss or I would have enough time to hit a volley. Just the small details.

"I do believe I've given everything of myself out there in the match today. I still felt that I could have done something else, I just don't know what it is right now."

Daniil Medvedev's incredible US Open campaign will end in the final after he came through a tight tussle with Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-3.

Russian fifth seed Medvedev has relished the role of tournament villain he was cast in after a controversial third-round win in which he aimed a middle-finger gesture to spectators.

Medvedev has continually talked about using the negative energy to fuel him, though it is unfortunate the pantomime jeers have somewhat overshadowed a breakthrough performance from a rapidly rising star on the ATP Tour.

The boos turned to applause after he overcame injury with an unorthodox performance to knock out Stan Wawrinka and reach the semi-finals, where he flustered and frustrated a player who was sensational in eliminating Roger Federer in the last eight.

Dimitrov's run to the semi-finals was perhaps the most unexpected development of a tournament defined by surprises in New York.

However, he was unable to make any breakthroughs stick against an opponent whose movement suggested he has shaken off his thigh issue on Friday.

Medvedev completed victory in two hours, 38 minutes, with another extremely accomplished performance he will be physically ready for a first grand slam final against either Rafael Nadal or Matteo Berrettini.

'Think different'.

In 1997, Apple pushed that slogan in an advertising campaign launched well before it became a mobile communications behemoth.

Having only been born a year earlier, nearly 5,900 miles away from Silicon Valley, Daniil Medvedev may not be familiar with that part of tech history.

Medvedev, though, has become the living embodiment of the philosophy.

The Russian world number five was heading into a US Open semi-final on Friday, taking on Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the final. There has been very little normal about Moscow-born Medvedev's route through to this point, everything about it has been different.

Boasting the biggest stadium in tennis and home to some extremely passionate locals, Flushing Meadows is a place capable of producing the kind of atmosphere players dream about playing in.

However, it is also a venue where nightmare experiences are possible, with many players taking exception to behaviour in the stands when the late-night New York crowd gets a little too invested in proceedings.

Medvedev is not like those players, though, and has instead thrived in the face of a sustained level of heckling many would have buckled under.

Amid a disagreement with an umpire in his third-round match with Feliciano Lopez, Medvedev was seen to aim a middle-finger gesture at the crowd. It was shown on the Louis Armstrong Stadium big screen and vociferous booing followed as Medvedev was cast in the role of villain.

He was still able to close out the victory but took part in a post-mach interview that was the antithesis of what is expected in the often-sterile on-court Q&A. The jeers were relentless and, in a situation where many would have pleaded with the fans to stop or cut the interview short, Medvedev soaked up the boos and thanked the crowd for them, praising spectators for giving him energy "to win the next five matches".

Medvedev's response was the same in the fourth round against Dominik Koepfer. Never has such a negative reception been so gleefully welcomed. The rocky relationship between Medvedev and the crowd proved mutually beneficial, as it provided fans with a hate-figure and Medvedev extra motivation to rile them up as he slogged his way through the draw.

Everybody loves to have a villain to hate. However, villains are more convincing when they have the game to back it up. It was the unique way in which he backed it up that turned the fans in Medvedev's favour.

Facing Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals, Medvedev developed a problem with his left thigh. It was clear that movement was a huge issue. It would have been the end for most players, and Medvedev later conceded he thought it would spell the end for him.

However, he masterfully ensured it did not finish him off. Restricting his most intense movement for his own service games, Medvedev changed up his tactics superbly, relying heavily on drop shots and exquisitely placed lobs to work a 34-year-old Wawrinka around the court at will.

Even though the Swiss won the third set, the revised plan bore fruit as Wawrinka faltered badly in the fourth, though Medvedev was not happy to win in such a fashion.

"After the match, it was tough for me to express many emotions because I felt the way I won was quite ugly," Medvedev said. "Because that's what I had to do."

It may have felt ugly from his perspective, but, from up in the stands, the speed and the effectiveness with which he altered his approach was a joy to behold, and he received a deserved standing ovation at the end of his last-eight triumph.

Asked if he and the crowd are friends again, Medvedev replied: "Hopefully. It's not for me to decide. What I got I deserved. Usually I'm not like this, as I was in the third-round match. I'm not proud of it. I'm working to be better."

Medvedev's is a redemption story nearing a fascinating conclusion that will come in the final if he defeats Dimitrov.

It may never be exactly clear why Medvedev felt the need to turn the spectators against him. On and off the court, he is an incredibly difficult player to read, even for his coach Gilles Cervara, who summed up his protege using another term adopted by Apple.

"It's like to coach a genius," said Cervara. "Sometimes a genius, you don't understand them. It's like this. They are different."

Few would disagree that men's tennis is due a makeover and perhaps we are closer than ever to glimpsing its new face.

The same names are reeled off at every grand slam when talk turns to the 'next generation', and Kei Nishikori ran us through them on the first day of this US Open.

The Japanese put himself forward as a possible contender, then added: "You see [Dominic] Thiem playing finals, and I think a couple of guys are getting closer.

"Of course, Sascha [Alexander Zverev] is a great player and a couple of young guys: Felix [Auger-Aliassime], [Denis] Shapovalov, [Nick] Kyrgios, those guys who are coming up, too. Oh, yes, and [Daniil] Medvedev."

Four times a year, the debate turns to which '#NextGen' star – Nishikori is now 29 – might be able to end the slam dominance of the 'Big Three'.

Andy Murray had made it a 'Big Four' and Stan Wawrinka won three majors in three years, but the latter's Flushing Meadows triumph in 2016 was the last time one of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, three of the greatest players in history, did not win a grand slam.

There is certainly no shame in coming up short when those three represent the competition.

Federer has made his home in Melbourne and at Wimbledon, Nadal is close to untouchable on clay, and Djokovic, on his day and when fit, has the full package.

Opportunities for the rest are scarce. Thiem has been able to beat Nadal on the red dirt but not at Roland Garros, losing consecutive finals. The US Open has seen a varied cast of recent finalists, yet Djokovic has played in three of the past four deciders and won two of them.

This is the golden era of men's tennis, and yet...

Whisper it quietly, but might there be an argument that it has become a little dull seeing the same three names top the honours boards four times a year?

Can we have too much of a good thing? Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are certainly a good thing. They have done wonders for tennis with their efforts both individually and collectively.

But sport is arguably at its best when it is unpredictable, when fans come along for the ride not knowing which way it will twist or turn.

Look at the NFL or the NBA, where regular-season records count for nothing when the top seeds – like the New Orleans Saints or the Milwaukee Bucks – fall short in the playoffs. Look at the Champions League, where Manchester City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, try as they might, cannot turn domestic dominance into European success. Look a little closer to home at the WTA Tour.

For while men's tennis is a closed shop, the women's equivalent is anything but. Since Serena Williams completed her second 'Serena Slam' in 2015, there have been 10 different champions across 16 major tournaments.

Serena can dismantle any opponent when on top form and has at times done so this year, but the competition is healthy, the results are often unexpected.

So this year's men's US Open has been similarly refreshing.

We can all remember classic Djokovic-Federer clashes – as recently as the Wimbledon final – but Grigor Dimitrov downed the great Swiss in a New York epic, while Matteo Berrettini described his own quarter-final against Gael Monfils as "one of the best matches I've ever seen".

Seeing new faces compete at the business end of the tournament has been uplifting, with unusually early exits for Federer and Djokovic presenting opportunities for others to forge legacies.

And now, one could argue, we must have a new winner. Only Nadal, with a patchy recent hard-court record, remains of the superhuman trio. He is the favourite but surely he is beatable.

Because how quickly would a thrilling fortnight be forgotten if, come the start of next year, Nadal and Djokovic each held two slam titles? Conversely, a triumphant Medvedev, Dimitrov or Berrettini would renew hope within the locker room.

The 'Big Three' might not have long left at the top – particularly in 38-year-old Federer's case – but the 'next generation' need not wait that long to get over the hump. This looks like a fine opportunity.

Rafael Nadal says his body is holding up well amid the rigours of a deep run at the US Open, where he booked a spot in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer having already exited at Flushing Meadows, Nadal is the hot favourite in New York and the Spaniard took a step closer to glory with a straight-sets win over Diego Schwartzman.

A 6-4 7-5 6-2 triumph did not tell the whole story against an opponent who provided a stern test for three-time US Open champion Nadal.

Nadal, who has endured well-documented injury troubles in his career, needed medical treatment on an arm issue but the 18-time grand slam winner insists he is in good shape.

"I'm feeling good. [It] was a very humid day, very heavy day. I had some cramps in the end of the second [set] and [in the] the first five or six games of the third," he said.

"And then I take some salt, that's all, and then it was over. The body is in good shape, I think. No, not big problems. 

"Of course, now I'm a little bit tired, it's been a long day. I need to go to sleep. But I really believe that I'm going to be in good shape."

Standing in the way of Nadal and a place in the final is outsider Matteo Berrettini, who defeated Gael Monfils in a marathon five-set encounter.

It was put to Nadal the Italian poses a similar threat to that of Marin Cilic, who he defeated in four sets prior to overcoming Schwartzman, given both players' propensity for power hitting and big serving.

But Nadal is expecting an altogether different challenge.

"I approach the game in a different way. I have one day to think about it, honestly," he added. 

"I just won a very important match for me and it is the moment to enjoy this victory. 

"Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to start to think about what's the plan for after tomorrow, and today is the moment to enjoy that feeling, be in semi-finals of a grand slam again. 

"I achieved the four semi-finals of the four grand slams this year and that's a lot. I'm very, very happy for that."

Andy Murray will have to endure a long process to get back to a level he is happy with as he continues his return from hip surgery, according to his brother Jamie.

Murray was expected to retire from tennis after an emotional media conference at the Australian Open as he revealed the full extent of his injury struggles, with most anticipating a thrilling five-set first-round loss to Roberto Bautista Agut to mark his farewell.

However, the three-time grand slam champion and former world number one underwent a hip resurfacing operation in the hope of extending his career and returned at Queen's Club in June, winning the doubles alongside Feliciano Lopez.

He played in the men's doubles and alongside Serena Williams in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon before partnering with Jamie at the Citi Open in Washington. Murray then made his singles comeback at the Cincinnati Masters, losing 6-4 6-4 to Richard Gasquet before being beaten by Tennys Sandgren in three sets at the Winston-Salem Open.

After two victories at a challenger event in Mallorca, Murray conceded to being fatigued following a three-set defeat to world number 240 Matteo Viola.

The 32-year-old opted to skip the US Open in order to play on the Balearic Island and work on his singles game in three-set matches, with Murray poised to feature in a number of tournaments on the forthcoming Asia swing.

Elder brother Jamie, who progressed to the semi-finals of the men's doubles with Neal Skupski and the final of the mixed alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday, believes it is important not to expect too much too soon from the two-time Wimbledon winner.

Speaking to reporters in New York, he said: "[It's] great that he's back on court competing. We had a lot of fun in Washington playing, that was really cool.

"For me to see him out there competing and playing well and enjoying it was really cool those few weeks that he was playing doubles. 

"To see him back playing in Cincinnati was really nice, although maybe he didn't perform the way he wanted to. It's going to be a long process for him to get back to the level that he's happy with.

"You saw with other guys, it took a while. [Stan] Wawrinka he's only now just being back at the level he's used to playing, it took him a long time after his arm injury.

"I think his goal is just to try to play as many matches as he can until the end of the year and try to get a good feeling and find his rhythm and confidence and I guess also find out what his movement level is going to be and then give himself hopefully the best chance to do a good pre-season and be ready for next year."

US Open spectators had their appetite for world class tennis satiated once again on Wednesday, as Matteo Berrettini and Gael Monfils delivered a thriller at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Berrettini needed nearly four hours to see off Monfils in five sets to reach his first grand slam semi-final.

The secret to his success at Flushing Meadows may be in the meals he is eating at his favourite New York restaurant, which was soon on his mind after his marathon victory.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.


GIOVANNI A GOOD LUCK CHARM FOR BERRETTINI

Berrettini had a new face in his box during his victory over Monfils, Giovanni Bartocci, the owner of Via Della Pace, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan's East Village that the 23-year-old has frequented during his time in New York.

Bartocci will likely be invited back after witnessing Berrettini's performance in defeating his French opponent, with the Italian set to face Rafael Nadal in the last four.

Asked in his media conference about his friendship with Bartocci, Berrettini replied: "The owner, yeah, Giovanni. Actually, he's from Rome, my city. So, you know, is not tough to get friend with a guy from the same city.

"I knew him last year. He's such a nice guy. He's always cheering for Italians. I mean, I'm the only one left, so now he's cheering for me."

On his favourite dish at the restaurant. he added: "Pasta for sure. But I like pasta in bianco. I don't know if you know it. It's like just oil and parmesan. Simple but really good."


A SUSHI CELEBRATION FOR MURRAY

Shifting to culinary delights from a different region, sushi was on the menu for Jamie Murray after his and Neal Skupski's win over Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow in the men's doubles.

The Scot snacked on the Japanese fare as he spoke to reporters following that three-set triumph.

It clearly provided the boost he needed as Murray went on to also claim victory in the mixed doubles alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the pair progressing to the final by defeating Rajeev Ram and Samantha Stosur.


SCHWARTZMAN WINS SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD

Diego Schwartzman received no reward for an admirable performance against Nadal, as he was defeated in three sets by the highest remaining seed and now tournament favourite.

He can take some solace, however, in that his conduct on and off the court has been recognised.

Before speaking to reporters following his elimination, Schwartzman was presented with the US Open sportsmanship award for 2019.

A well-deserved honour for a player who should have won plenty of new fans with his displays at Flushing Meadows.

Rafael Nadal overcame a spirited effort from Diego Schwartzman 6-4 7-5 6-2 to move within two wins of his 19th grand slam title at the US Open on Wednesday.

Nadal had effusively praised Schwartzman ahead of their quarter-final encounter at Flushing Meadows, telling a media conference he liked "everything" about the 20th seed's game.

He should now find plenty of people agreeing with that assessment after Schwartzman, who knocked out Alexander Zverev in a fourth-round result Nadal said did not surprise him, wiped out 4-0 and 5-1 leads for the number two seed in the first and second sets.

Where the diminutive Schwartzman came up short was in turning those fightbacks into turnarounds, with Nadal able to find his best when it counted in a victory that sets up a semi-final with Matteo Berrettini.

Nadal made a blistering start as he peppered the Schwartzman serve right from the off and broke when the Argentine sent a backhand into the net.

Those inside Arthur Ashe Stadium would have been forgiven for believing a rout was in the offing as he raced through the first four games in New York.

By the same token nobody would have expected the service game he subsequently dropped to be little more than a blip for Nadal, but it gave Schwartzman momentum and he completely erased the deficit with the help of a forehand into the tramlines from the second seed.

He then had a chance to break for a 5-4 lead but overhit a volley in what proved a costly error as Nadal held and then broke to take the set when Schwartzman could only return a backhand slice into the net.

The second set provided a sense of deja vu as Nadal again moved into a comfortable lead only to surrender it.

A forehand overhead at the end of a 14-shot rally gave Nadal a break for 3-1 and that advantage soon became 5-1 but again Schwartzman roared back.

Schwartzman brought the crowd to its feet with a marvellous forehand passing shot in the seventh game, which he took with a baseline winner to break back and start another run of four successive games.

Nadal stemmed the tide, though, and then went 40-0 up on the Schwartzman serve. Schwartzman was only able to save two of the three break points and the sense of inevitability at the end of the second sent supporters flooding out of the arena.

Schwartzman was defiant in the third but by that point he was only delaying Nadal's passage into the last four, and he finally buckled after lofting wide to give the three-time US Open champion a break he was never in danger of offering back.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Rafael Nadal [2] bt Diego Schwartzman [20] 6-4 7-5 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 35/39
Schwartzman – 26/37

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 5/1
Schwartzman – 4/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 7/13
Schwartzman – 4/10

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Nadal – 63
Schwartzman – 60

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Nadal – 70/50
Schwartzman – 58/46

TOTAL POINTS
Nadal – 100
Schwartzman - 83

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