New York, August 29: Novak Djokovic maintained his perfect 2020 record with victory against Roberto Bautista-Agut, although he overcame a major scare to reach the Western & Southern Open final.
World number one Djokovic is the clear favourite heading into the US Open and improved to 22-0 for the season with a 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-0) success on Friday.
But the dominant 17-time grand slam champion was at least given serious food for thought by Bautista-Agut heading into the Flushing Meadows major.
Indeed, Djokovic dropped the first set and only his extraordinary staying power allowed a recovery in a three-hour epic, before he required a tie-break in the third when the win had looked to be all but wrapped up.
A cat-and-mouse start saw both players break serve in the first four games, but the Spaniard repeated the feat to go 4-3 up against a frustrated Djokovic.
The top seed showed several signs of irritation, as he slapped his thighs and then earned a code violation for hitting the ball towards the umpire.
Djokovic then failed to capitalise on a break point that allowed Bautista-Agut to go 5-3 up and he eventually saw out the opener.
The Serbian initially responded well in the second, finding himself 4-1 up thanks to a break in game four, but his opponent battled back as the set approached the hour-mark.
Djokovic recovered his composure and battled to a hold before wearing down Bautista-Agut, who went long to cede the set and level the match.
Bautista-Agut came out with renewed vigour in the third and his pressure told with an early gain, but Djokovic was swiftly back on terms and then led, a break to love secured with a masterful lob.
Sensationally, serving for the match, Djokovic was likewise dealt a break to love and soon dropped his serve again, requiring a last-ditch recovery to reach the breaker.
A final against Milos Raonic was never in doubt then, though, as the indefatigable great ruthlessly cut down Bautista-Agut without dropping a point.
Raonic had booked his place in the final with what turned out to be a relatively straightforward 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The Canadian, who is unseeded for the competition, was deadly on his first-serve points as he won 35 of 39 and needed just an hour and 37 minutes to see off his opponent.
Raonic endured a difficult 2019 due to injuries but, having beaten Sam Querrey, Dan Evans, Andy Murray and Filip Krajinovic before dealing with Tsitsipas, is in confident mood ahead of the US Open.
"I'm feeling good about my tennis," he said. "I took the time to train, to try to do things right, to get myself to a stage I haven't been before with my tennis, with my health.
"I hope it can keep paying off for me because I've put in the work and let's see what the future holds."