Nadal retires to send Del Potro into US Open final

Nadal Del Potro Cilic US Open

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

Later, the 13-time major victor Djokovic swept Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach his seventh U.S. Open final in his last eight appearances.

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.

Nadal, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, mentioned retirement to the chair umpire midway through the second set, then threw in the towel after dropping the set.

"I love to play against Rafa because he's the biggest fighter in this sport", Del Potro said on court after the match.

"He's a player that went through lot of issues during his career, like me, too".

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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.

The Spaniard was made to work for his place in the last four, needing a fifth set tiebreak to see off Dominic Thiem in the quarters.

Del Potro's take: "I like to play always with the number one of the world - doesn't matter the tournament or the conditions or the weather". I don't like to see him suffering on court like today.

Both Nadal and Djokovic are in position for a two-slam season and a chance to inch closer to Federer's men's record of 20 Grand Slam titles.

"I know the things are going the right way", Nadal said.

"But at some point you have to make a decision, and it was so hard for me to keep playing in so much pain". It was just one player playing, the other one staying on the other side of the court.

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After the third game of the second set, he had a medical timeout so the trainer could massage his right leg and once again apply tape.

"I can not compare the knee with other times because the pain on the knee is always very similar", he said.

Where can I get tickets for Rafael Nadal vs Juan Martin del Potro? .

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.

Del Potro will go on to face the victor of Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori, who play Friday night.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN Del Potro [3] bt Nadal [1] 7-6 [7-3] 6-2 Ret.

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"I had my biggest memories on this court in 2009 when I beat Rafa and Roger (Federer, in the final)". Initially able only to hit slice backhands, Del Potro began to trust his two-hander more and, with it, the 29-year-old again became a major force. He was considered a rising star at the time, but a series of wrist operations - one on his dominant right arm, and three on his left - slowed his career and kept him out of 2 1/2 years' worth of major tournaments.

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