- Rafael Nadal reaches his third major final this year
- He'll face No. 28 seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa, who reaches his first major final
(CNN)Rafael Nadal made sure there wouldn't be a repeat of 2009.
The world No. 1 from Spain advanced to the US Open final with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 win against No. 24 seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina on Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York.
Nadal, who is seeking his 16th grand slam title (second only to Roger Federer), will face a first-time grand slam finalist in South African and No. 28 seed Kevin Anderson, who defeated No. 12 seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
This will be Nadal's 23rd career major final.
Nadal, 31, has won 15 consecutive grand slam semifinal appearances since he lost to del Potro in the 2009 US Open. This will be his third major final this year. He lost the Australian Open to Federer and defeated Stan Wawrinka for a 10th French Open title, making him the only man or woman in the Open Era to win a single grand slam event 10 times. Nadal last made it to three major finals in one year in 2011.
Following Friday's win, ESPN asked Nadal on court whether he thought a year ago -- when he lost in the round of 16 in New York -- that he would reach three major finals in 2017 with the chance to win two titles.
"I would say, 'Thanks, but it's almost impossible,' Nadal replied. "But here we are."
Nadal entered Friday with an 8-5 head-to-head record against del Potro, but the 28-year-old Argentine had the edge on the hard court, including the last two meetings: 2013 in Shanghai and in the semifinal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the 2009 US Open, del Potro defeated Nadal in straight sets in the semifinal and went on to beat Federer in five sets in the final for his only grand slam title.
That moment eight years ago has been the biggest grand slam highlight for del Potro, who has undergone four wrist surgeries in his career.
Friday's win levels Nadal with del Potro at 5-5 on that surface, and he was in fine form at Ashe.