Japan's Nishikori, the 10th seed, became the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam final when he swept past seven-time major winner and world number one Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 despite on-court temperatures of almost 40 degrees on Saturday.

Nishikori, the first Japanese man since 1918 to reach the semi-finals in New York, goes on to face Croatian 14th seed Cilic in Monday's championship match after he also reached a maiden Grand Slam final by beating five-time New York winner Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

It will be the first major final that has not featured one of the big three of Djokovic, Federer or Rafael Nadal since the Australian Open final in 2005 when Marat Safin defeated Lleyton Hewitt.

The 27-year-old Djokovic was the 2011 champion in New York. He was playing in his eighth successive US Open semi-final and bidding for a sixth final, his 15th overall at the majors.

In contrast, 24-year-old Nishikori's best effort had been a run to the quarter-finals of the 2012 Australian Open.

"I was a little bit tight especially as it was my first semi-final in a Grand Slam but it's just an amazing feeling to beat the number one player," said Nishikori.

"It was tough conditions, it was a little heavy and humid but I guess I love to play long matches."

Djokovic, playing in his 17th semi-final of the last 18 Grand Slam events, admitted Nishikori was the better player.

"He played some great tennis. I congratulate him for the effort. He was the better player today," said the Serb.

Despite playing back-to-back five-setters over eight and half hours to get to the semi-final, Nishikori wrapped up the first set in 39 minutes.

Djokovic, shrugged off his lethargy, breaking in the fourth and sixth games on his way to levelling the semi-final with a sixth ace securing the second set.

Nishikori, threatening to wilt in the heat, had to save four break points in an 11-minute third game of the third set which went to seven deuces.

He then conjured up a break for 5-3, but cracked when trying to serve out the set, his second double fault handing the break straight back to the Serb.

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