Del Potro reaches final after Nadal forced to quit

Dean Simpson
September 8, 2018

But he had a knee issue earlier in the tournament, when he had it taped during his victory against Karen Khachanov in the third round.

The third seed, who advanced after world number one Rafa Nadal retired from their match due to injury on Friday, said persistent wrist ailments almost led to him exiting the sport in 2015, what he called the "worst moment" of his career.

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

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during his men´s singles semi-final match against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina on Day Twelve of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7, 2018.

"That was not a tennis match at the end".

Argentine third seed Del Potro was leading 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 when Nadal, the defending champion, was forced to quit because of a knee problem.

"The pain on the knee is always very similar", he said.

Only Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras have been to the NY decider as often as the remarkable Serb, who lost on his last visit two years ago, to Stan Wawrinka, and has won twice, against Roger Federer in 2015 and Nadal in 2011, the best season of his career.

The slower courts, oppressive weather and a long succession of arduous matches took a heavy toll on Nadal, who also pulled out of his Australian Open quarter final in January when he was behind to Marin Cilic. "I hate to retire, but staying one more set out there, playing like this, would be too much for me".

He has won the last 13 although Nishikori defeated the Serb in NY in the 2014 semi-finals on his way to a runners-up spot against Marin Cilic. Yes, it is bitterly disappointing but he has added another Grand Slam title in 2018 and he is world number one. In the last three years, the Serb is 10-0 against Nishikori, dropping just three sets out of 25 in the process - it will take a considerable swing in head to head momentum for this match to produce a shock.

Rafael Nadal got medical attention in the second set before retiring at the end of second vs Juan Martin Del Potro.

Novak Djokovic served impeccably and used his typical brand of court-covering defense to reach his record-tying eighth US Open final by beating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Friday night.

"It means a lot to me", del Potro said.

Having fought through his own injury-ravaged years, Del Potro understood his opponent's pain and gave him a warm embrace before he left the court.

The majority of the second set was largely played as a formality, with Nadal clearly not looking like himself.

He will have a shot at the hat-trick on Sunday, though, when he comes up against 2009 champion Del Potro.

Those pals helped del Potro get through the toughest times, as he would need to repeatedly return to have surgery. "I love to play against Rafa because he's the biggest fighter in this sport".

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