NEW YORK, September 13 – Rain showers on Sunday forced postponement of the US Open men's final to Monday for the third year in a row, giving Novak Djokovic a much-needed rest day before he has to face top-ranked Rafael Nadal.US Tennis Association officials waited about two hours beyond the scheduled start time of the championship match at Arthur Ashe Stadium before calling off play for the day under dismal skies with dreary downpours forecast until dawn.
Spanish left-hander Nadal, trying to complete a career Grand Slam by capturing his first title on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts, was hit by rain at the US Open for the third year in a row.
Djokovic, whose lone Grand Slam title came at the 2008 Australian Open, has never beaten Nadal in a final or at a Grand Slam event but is set to try again for the 1.7 million-dollar top prize at 4 pm (2000 GMT).
Nadal can become the seventh man to complete the career Grand Slam, joining Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, Don Budge and Fred Perry in having won US, French and Australian Opens and Wimbledon titles.
But the extra day of rest diminishes the fatigue factor that might have slowed Djokovic in the wake of an exhausting 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 Saturday semi-final victory over 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.
"I don’t know the rituals how to invite the rain, but yeah, an extra day would be great actually," Djokovic said after his victory over Federer.
"Definitely I will have to do a lot of recovery because it has been an exhausting match."
Last year, rain delayed the finish of a Nadal US Open quarter-final against Chilean Fernando Gonzalez from Thursday to Saturday, pushing the semi-finals to Sunday and the men’s final to Monday.
In 2008, rain halted a Saturday semi-final between Nadal and Britain’s Andy Murray in the third set and postponed the finish of that match until Sunday and the men’s final until Monday, something that had not happened since 1987.
Now Nadal has an extra day to wait and think about a match that could lift his legend to another level with the Grand Slam sweep.
"Is for sure going to be an important match," Nadal said. "For sure this one is going to be something new."
Nadal owns a 14-7 career edge in their rivalry but has lost his past three matches against Djokovic, the most recent in London at last year’s ATP Finals. He last beat the Serbian on hardcourts in a 2008 Beijing Olympics semi-final.
Nadal seeks his ninth career Slam crown and third in a row after taking the Wimbledon and French Open trophies.
No Spaniard has won the US Open title since Manuel Orantes in 1975. The only other Spanish man to win the US Open was Manuel Santana in 1965. No left-hander has won the US Open men’s title since US southpaw John McEnroe in 1984
Nadal has not dropped a set in the tournament and could become the first US Open men’s champion not to drop a set in the tournament since Australian Neale Fraser half a century ago.
Nadal has lost only two service games in the tournament and could have the fewest broken serves of any US Open men’s champion, a mark held by Andy Roddick in allowing only five during his 2003 title run.
Djokovic, who will pass Federer for the world number two ranking after the final, could become the first US Open champion to have saved a match point in the US Open since Andy Roddick in 2003. Djokovic rescued two to beat Federer.
Rain halted the women’s doubles final with American Liezel Huber and Russian Nadia Petrova leading American Vania King and Kazak Yaroslavl Shvedova 6-2, 4-6, 5-4. The match is set to be completed before the men’s final starts.