Hot and humid conditions in New York left both players weary in a topsy, turvy — and oftentimes confounding — battle, which Djokovic won 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
Djokovic owns a 19-4 career head-to-head lead on the Swiss player, though the last time they met in a major final Wawrinka emerged victorious, at the French Open 15 months ago.
The world No. 1 will try to win his 13th major title, bringing in a 12-8 career record at that stage. He won at the Australian and French Open earlier this year, both times over Andy Murray.
Djokovic completed just his third match in six rounds at this U.S. Open, having been given a walkover in the second round as well as retirements in the third round and quarterfinals.
Frustrated by Monfils’ wacky style and in-match antics, Djokovic ripped the collar of his shirt at one point, having let a love-40 lead on his opponent’s serve slip away.The Serbian ran through the second set, while many questioned if Monfils was giving his best effort as they watched him move slowly around the court, floating balls and sometimes batting away – or pummeling out of bounds – wildly silly errors.
After taking a two-set lead, Djokovic relented in the third, both players growing increasingly tired as temperatures climbed over 90 degrees with 50 percent humidity.
Djokovic hit just one ace in the match and seven double faults, but he was broken only four times while winning eight of Monfils’ service games. He hit 26 winners to 36 for Monfils in the match, while committing 27 unforced errors to Monfils’ 52.
Djokovic is looking for his 13th career major and third U.S. Open, where he is defending champion. He lost in the third round of Wimbledon earlier this summer and was shocked in his opener at the Olympics. A wrist injury had forced him out of the lead-up event in Cincinnati, an injury he said has since been taken care of.
Djokovic will face Stan Wawrinka, the No. 3 seed, in the final. Wawrinka beat Kei Nishikori in four sets, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 in the second semifinal.