Published: Sat, September 08, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Rafael Nadal retires in US Open semi-final with knee injury

Rafael Nadal retires in US Open semi-final with knee injury

Not long after Rafael Nadal hat to quit against Juan Martin del Potro with a knee injury, Novak Djokovic inflicted more conventional pain on Kei Nishikori in straight sets on Friday night to reach the US Open final for the eighth time.

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.

Wimbledon champion Djokovic, playing in his 11th US Open semi-final, claimed a 15th win in 17 clashes against Nishikori.

Djokovic will face 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro in Sunday's final.

But it was clearly galling for the player famed for his fighting spirit to hobble out of a second Grand Slam of 2018, having retired in the fifth set of his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic with a torn inner hip muscle.

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The effort took its toll, with the Spaniard twice needing to have his right knee bandaged before calling it a day after the conclusion of the second set. A lot of people in this room, including me, didn't think I would be at this level at this age.

"I can not compare the knee with other times because the pain on the knee is always very similar", he said. "I know what is going on with the knee. 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. It was so hard for me to keep playing, I was in too much pain.

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"From my experience, and I can only talk about myself", Djokovic said, "this has been definitely the toughest U.S. Open in the last, you know, 10 years that I have played in in terms of conditions". "The problem is this time was something little bit more aggressive because was in one movement".

Nadal, who reached the last four in NY on the back of brilliant shot-making and incredible movement, looked out of sorts early against Del Potro and struggled to cover the court with his usual tenacity.

The Japanese player's spirit was finally broken and his serve followed, with Djokovic claiming his fourth break with a fist-pumping celebration before serving for the match.

"Is not an injury that tells you six months off, you are back".

Del Potro, who lost to Nadal in last year's semi-finals, said he was now focused on extending his career, sticking to a daily yoga regime and spending hours on treatments for his wrist and body. I am enjoying being on court.

"I'm having two great years".

"All my career everybody say that because of my style, I will have a short career".

"I waited as much as I can". Djokovic faced only two break points, both in the second, and erased them both.

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