By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal won a tightly-fought third set in the U.S. Open men's final against world number one Novak Djokovic to move within one set of claiming the championship on Monday.
The second-seeded Spaniard battled back from triple break point down in the ninth game of the set to hold for 5-4 and then broke Djokovic in the next game to take a 6-2 3-6 6-4 lead.
The quality of tennis was rising throughout the match, translating into long rallies, brilliant defense and booming winners that had the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd on their feet roaring their appreciation.
Australian Open champion Djokovic had carried over his momentum from the second set by breaking Nadal in the first game of the third set.
French Open winner Nadal brought the set back on serve at 3-3, taking advantage of a string of Djokovic errors.
Djokovic looked poised to claim a critical break in the ninth game after playing three brilliant points for 0-40.
But Nadal rose up and denied Djokovic, snuffing out the third break point with his first ace of the match on a 125-mph bullet and held after the second deuce.
The top-seeded Serb kept pounding groundstrokes to Nadal's backhand after Nadal reached set point in the 10th game, but when Djokovic finally tested the Spaniard on his forehand side, the world number two unleashed a winner up the line to end the set.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)