Novak Djokovic stormed into his sixth US Open final on Friday with a 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 rout of defending champion Marin Cilic in the most one-sided New York semifinal of the modern era.
The world No 1 and 2011 champion now awaits the winner of the second semifinal between five-time champion Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, the French Open champion.
Friday’s romp was the most lopsided semifinal of the Open Era at the tournament, beating Lleyton Hewitt’s 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 2001.
Djokovic has now reached the finals of all four majors this year, winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles and finishing runner-up to Wawrinka in Paris.
Sunday’s final will be his 16th in the last 21 Grand Slams and 18th overall, tying the record of Pete Sampras.
It took Djokovic just 85 minutes to see off Cilic, whose hopes were undermined by an ankle injury.
The ninth seeded Croatian committed 37 unforced errors and took just 13 points off the Djokovic serve.
“Marin has had an ankle injury for a few days now so he was very courageous to come out and finish the match,” said Djokovic, who will be chasing a 10th Grand Slam title on Sunday.
“It’s never easy knowing that your opponent is not 100 percent but I had to show good intensity and stick to my game plan.”
“It’s a great achievement to reach the finals of all four majors in the same year for the first time. It’s where you want to do your best.”
Djokovic went into Friday’s semifinal with a 13-0 career stranglehold over Cilic.
There was no sign of him loosening his grip in the first set, which he swept in just 24 minutes, allowing the defending champion just three points on his serve.
Cilic was broken three times in the opening set and twice more in the second, although he at least got on board in the second game.
It didn’t derail the world No 1, who once again gave up just three points as Cilic fell to pieces in a match which managed to silence the usual raucous New York crowd by its lack of competitiveness.
Watched by former James Bond star Sean Connery, the 26-year-old Cilic managed to recover a break at 2-2 in the third set.
It took him 71 minutes into the contest to achieve that small morsel which proved to be a brief respite from the assault as Djokovic made him pay and was quickly back in charge at 3-2.
He broke on two more occasions before the tie was over when Cilic went long with a forehand.
“I haven’t been 100 percent with my ankle and Novak exposed it more than any other player,” said Cilic.
“I thought about not playing but I decided to play as it is a Grand Slam tournament. Anywhere else I would have pulled out so as not to aggravate it.”
Federer, 34, said he would prepare for his semifinal by sleeping as much as possible.
The 34-year-old Swiss believes napping, as well as the routine of practice and gym work, is just as crucial as he enters his 10th New York semifinal and 20th career clash against Swiss compatriot Wawrinka.
“Sleeping has become quite important,” said Federer, the father of two sets of twins.
“I believe it’s really the sleep that gives you energy again down the road.”
If the approach for such a high-stakes clash seems risky, then Federer is showing no signs of nerves as he moves two wins from an 18th major and his first in more than three years.
He has reached the semifinals without dropping a set and has been broken just twice.
Furthermore, he has a 16-3 record against Wawrinka.
He may have lost their most recent clash in the French Open quarterfinals as Wawrinka swept to the title, but Federer’s three defeats have all come on clay.
Wawrinka will be playing in his second US Open semifinal after also making the last four in 2013.