Djokovic eases past Nishikori to reach US Open final

Novak Djokovic Roger Federer Rafael Nadal have been my role models

Coming into this semi-final, he had already spent nearly 16 hours on court.

Nadal's challenge looked doomed even as early as the first set, as he was feeling the injury after just four games, he admitted.

Over and out: Rafael Nadal, of Spain, waves to fans after retiring from the match.

"It's not a tennis match when one is playing and the other is at the side of the court".

Del Potro was leading 7-6, 6-2 at the time of Nadal's retirement, and will now play his first major final since he won the title here in 2009.

After having his right knee taped, Nadal threw in a sloppy game to be broken again at 4-4, giving Del Potro the chance to serve out the opener.

It was the second time this year that the world number one has retired from a slam as he also quit during his quarter-final against Marin Cilic at the Australian Open in January.

"These moments are tough but I have to keep going and working hard to get more opportunities".

Following these, Nishikori and Djokovic meet in the second men's semi-final tonight, which will start not before 2300 United Kingdom time, although in all likelihood, quite a bit later.

An eighth final is within reach and to achieve that, the 31-year-old expects Nishikori to make him sweat - literally. Lot of people in this room, including myself, never will think that at the age of 32 I will be here fighting for titles, fighting for the first positions of the rankings.

Nadal recovered in typically gutsy fashion, but took a medical timeout at the end of the game for more treatment and it soon became clear he was in major trouble.

Japan's Kei Nishikori meets Novak Djokovic of Serbia in Friday's second semi-final with a spot in the final against Del Potro on the line.

After edging a 69-minute set, Del Potro applied pressure early in the second, thundering winners off both wings to get to 15-40 in game two.

Back from career-threatening wrist problems, Del Potro has shone throughout this tournament, but will have his work cut out to deny former world No. 1 Djokovic if the Serbian reproduces the form he showed on Friday.

Reaching a second consecutive Grand Slam final suggests the 13-times major champion is almost back to his best, though he will need to be even more clinical against Del Potro, who has only dropped one set in six matches in NY.

An elbow injury in 2003 prevented his expected French Open debut that year and a stress fracture in one ankle kept him out of Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2004. As hard as it is to say goodbye before [the] match finished, you have to take a position. "I love to play against Rafa because he's the biggest fighter in this sport and I don't like to see him suffering", said 29-year-old Del Potro who will be playing in his second Slam final.

One of the greatest players of all time, the one chink in the Spaniard's armour has always been his knees with injuries plaguing him throughout his career.

Nadal was able to feel at least some pleasure for Del Potro after all his struggles: 'He's a player that went through lot of issues during his career, like me too. "I had my biggest memories on the tennis court playing on this court ... but I was a kid".

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