Daniil Medvedev has ended Carlos Alcaraz's reign as US Open champion, eliminating the Spanish superstar 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 3-6 6-3 to set up a final showdown against Novak Djokovic.
The third-seeded Medvedev won his lone major at Flushing Meadows in 2021 by defeating Djokovic and preventing the Serbian completing what would have been the first calendar-year grand slam in men's tennis since 1969.
"I said I needed to play 11 out of 10, I played 12 out of 10 - except the third set - that's the only way," Medvedev said of rising to the challenge against Alcaraz.
The Spanish top seed - who will relinquish the world No.1 ranking to Djokovic no matter what happens in the final - had been trying to become the first man to claim consecutive championships in New York since Roger Federer won five in a row from 2004-08.
All the smart money had predicted a Djokovic-Alcaraz final. Instead, Medvedev - in his third US Open final in five years - will face off against the multiple grand slam champion.
The beaten Alcaraz insisted he would not be stewing on his defeat.
"(Medvedev) played really great, a great game," he said.
"I don't think I'm going to think about this loss for a long time.
"I have to learn (from) it. I want to be better, these kind of matches help you a lot to grow up."
For Medvedev, the focus has already shifted to the final with Djokovic.
"The challenge is that you play a guy that won 23 grand slams, and I have only one," the world No.3 said.
"When I beat him here (in 2021), I managed to play better than myself. I need to do it again. There is no other way."
Djokovic ended big-serving Ben Shelton's American dream to win their semi-final 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-4).
It was a defeat that prolongs America's wait for a first home men's champion since Andy Roddick in 2003 for at least another year, and brought Djokovic a record 10th appearance in the men's final.
The gulf in big-occasion nous was apparent from the start, with Djokovic playing in his 100th US Open match and Shelton his seventh.
Shelton was the youngest American man to reach the semi-finals since Michael Chang in 1992, Djokovic the eldest since Jimmy Connors a year earlier.
The Serbian was playing in his 47th grand-slam semi; Shelton his first.
Djokovic is one win away from equalling Margaret Court's all-time 24-title major record and becoming the oldest winner of the tournament in the Open era, surpassing another Australian, Ken Rosewall, who was 35 when he won the US Open in 1970.
Rosewall went on to win the Australian Open two years later as a 37-year-old.
"These are the kind of matches and occasions I still thrive on, that inspire me to wake up every day and work hard," Djokovic said after booking his place in a 36th grand slam final.
"I value these occasions and opportunities to win another slam more than I have maybe 10 years ago, because 10 years ago I felt like, 'Hey, I still have quite a few years ahead of me'.
"I don't know how many I have ahead of me now."
- with agencies