Djokovic, del Potro need no OT to advance to US Open final

Rafael Nadal

Nadal suffered problems with his right knee during his third-round win over Russian Karen Khachanov but insisted it was not a major issue and subsequently won gruelling matches against Nikoloz Basilashvili and Dominic Thiem.

The world number one had spent more almost 16 hours on court in reaching the last four, averaging more than four hours a match during the last three rounds, and that took its toll here.

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. "As you can imagine, it's very hard for me to say goodbye before the match finished", Nadal said afterwards, the news outlet reports. The two that preceded the Wimbledon classic were easier victories, a semifinal rout en route to the French Open title and a four-set victory in last year's U.S. Open semifinals, when Nadal dominated the last three sets.

Del Potro, a man far too familiar with his body letting him down, is probably the last person who would have wanted to progress in such a manner but surely no player deserves a kind break more.

Arthur Ashe Stadium had not long emptied, stunned by the retirement of Nadal after two sets, when Djokovic put Nishikori under immediate pressure in the second semi-final.

The 31-year-old, who was beaten by Nishikori at Flushing Meadows in 2014, sealed victory on his second match point to improve his head-to-head record against the Japanese to 15 wins from 17 meetings.

'Anyways the key was the first set, we both played good tennis, it was tough.

Grimacing with every sudden move, the 17-time Grand Slam victor called for the trainer during the changeover on serve at 2-1 in the second.

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Del Potro will face the victor of Friday's second semifinal between Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

"It means a lot to be back in the final", added Del Potro after his sixth win over Nadal, all on hard court.

Djokovic, who was forced to skip last year's tournament due to an elbow injury and returned to the tour this year after surgery, said he was thrilled to be back on the big stage. He was visited by a trainer at the changeover after the match's seventh game and tape was applied below the joint.

As Nadal himself noted during a news conference that closed as he began to choke up, this was the second of those defeats that involved him quitting during a Grand Slam match because of an injury; the other was in the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic.

Nadal leads the series 11-5, though del Potro routed him in straight sets in the 2009 semifinals.

This one, given the added difficulty created by unusually high heat and humidity, would certainly be meaningful.

"He's a big match player and I'm sure the final will be a thrilling match".

"I had my biggest memories on this court in 2009 when I beat Rafa and Roger (Federer, in the final)".

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