The 22-year-old 6ft 6in Russian, already the owner of two indoor hard court titles this year, won 6-4 6-1 against Dominic Thiem.
Nadal won 40 percent of his first serves in the opener as he struggled with the high humidity on Arthur Ashe Stadium court, with Thiem becoming the first player to ‘bagel’ the Spaniard at Flushing Meadows since Andy Roddick 14 years ago.
Claycourt specialist Thiem’s relentless accuracy from the baseline proved too much for second seed Zverev who looked jaded after a gruelling path to his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
The record was set in 1984
The 23-year-old Austrian lost 3-6 4-6 0-6 for Nadal to advance into Sunday’s final and move towards a record-breaking 10th title.