Del Potro reaches US Open final after Nadal's knee trouble returns

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina shakes hands with Rafael Nadal of Spain after Nadal retired from the match during the semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament Friday Sept. 7 2018 in New York

Nishikori improved in the second set, coming to the net more often, but Djokovic was in imperious form.

The Argentinian looked set to be a major rival to the big four when he won the US Open title in 2009 aged just 20, beating Nadal in the semi-finals and Roger Federer in the final.

For Nadal and Del Potro, this will be a third meeting in the last five Grand Slams, all won by the Spaniard although the pair have split their 10 meetings on hard courts. I'll try to prepare myself as best as I can. I mean, I had the silver medal from Rio.

Nishikori has enough about him to make this a competitive affair and we should see plenty of long rallies, but if Djokovic plays to his best then there will only be one victor. "Reaching finals, winning titles, having my highest ranking ever in this moment, everything is nearly ideal". He is 14-2 against Nishikori, including a victory in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

Defending champion Sloane Stephens could not repeat her dream performance from past year, but she gave it her all.

The world number one had headed into the tie after a marathon quarter-final tie against Dominic Thiem, who pushed the Spaniard to the limits on a humid night in NY. He said one day that he flew a group of his closest childhood friends to the U.S. Open so they could finally understand his unique lifestyle. A surprisingly poor record and in four of those five losses he dropped the first set, which supports the argument that Del Potro's best chance is to hit the ground running.

The second set saw him get two more break points in Nadal's first service game, after a delicious play where he scored the point of the match (see video.) But Nadal held serve and just as everyone was were getting set for another marathon, the top seed needed a medical timeout and the match was all but sealed then.

Rafael Nadal of Spain right knee is taped during a match against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina during the semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament Friday Sept. 7 2018 in New York. Nadal retired from the match

"[He's] playing very solid everything: serve, return, groundstrokes". He said the discomfort surfaced in the first set, with him serving at 2-2, 15-0, and he told his coaches and supporters in his box about it.

"I waited as much as I can".

"I hate to retire", said Nadal who has endured a series of knee injuries throughout his career. But we all knew that he has a capacity and a quality to get to the point where he is at the moment. It was so hard to keep playing that way. "Every time I step out on this court I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to play this sport".

Nadal already had the admiration of tennis fans for his relentless approach and unyielding competitive spirit.

"I didn't know if I will be a tennis player again or not", Del Potro said Friday. He and Nadal have developed a respect for each other.

"I'm really happy to be in the semis again". "I will not lie to you". Of course, I like to play always with the number one of the world, it doesn't matter the tournament or the conditions.

Few would have predicted such a remarkable turnaround for Djokovic, who lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open, underwent surgery on his right elbow and fell at the first hurdle in Indian Wells and Miami on his return.

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