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Rafael Nadal into U.S. Open final with Roger Federer’s record on horizon

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NEW YORK — The last time Rafael Nadal was within one Grand Slam title of Roger Federer‘s total, there was no Federer-Nadal rivarly. They had not yet played against each other.

But Nadal has the opportunity for a 19th crown — moving one shy of Federer’s male record — in Sunday’s U.S. Open final (4 p.m. ET) against Russian Daniil Medvedev. He swept 24th seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-1 in Friday’s semifinals.

Earlier, the fifth seed Medvedev took out Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 to extend the most successful summer of anybody on tour. Medvedev is 20-2 since Wimbledon, with one of the losses coming in his first meeting with Nadal — a 6-3, 6-0 beating.

“He kind of, I would say, eaten me on the court,” Medvedev said. “He was only going harder, harder, faster, stronger, and I was only going down.”

Nadal, by winning a 12th French Open in June, moved within two Slams of Federer’s total for the first time since Federer had two and Nadal had zero in 2004. Afterward, he twice shrugged off questions about a record chase.

“It’s a motivation, but it’s not my obsession,” Nadal said then. “You can’t be frustrated all the time because the neighbor has a bigger house than you or a bigger TV or better garden. That’s not the way that I see the life, you know.”

But Nadal did add that he believes he lost the chance to win “15 or more” Slams due to injuries.

“But I don’t think my future will be worth any more if I equal Federer’s record,” he said. “If, at the end of my career, I am able to win a couple of more Grand Slams and be closer to Roger, will be unbelievable. If not, for me, still unbelievable, no?”

Medvedev, 23, looks to become the first man born in the 1990s to win a Slam. He is the youngest Slam finalist since Novak Djokovic at the 2010 U.S. Open.

He is also the busiest man on the ATP Tour. Medvedev has won as many matches since Wimbledon as Nadal, Djokovic and Federer combined. He has won 50 matches overall this year and made seven finals, also tops on tour.

“He’s making steps forward every single week,” Nadal said. “Will be the toughest opponent in the final.”

Does Medvedev, who endured cramps and embraced crowd boos as a sort-of villain these two weeks, have enough left to win the biggest match of his life?

“This summer’s been, I should say, so fast and long at the same time,” said the lanky, 6-foot-6 Russian who had never before made a Slam quarterfinal. “But here, this week, everything has worked out.

“I don’t want to stop.”

MORE: Roger Federer undecided on Olympics

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J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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MORE: 2019 Senior Grand Prix assignments