Published: Sun, September 09, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Nadal retires, Del Potro in US Open final

Nadal retires, Del Potro in US Open final

Defending champion Rafael Nadal retired after the second set due to knee pain, as Juan Martin del Potro returns to a Grand Slam final for the first time since he won the U.S. Open in 2009.

As he prepares to play in his first Grand Slam final since that one almost a decade ago, meeting 13-time major champion Novak Djokovic for the championship at Flushing Meadows on Sunday, del Potro seems at ease talking about it all.

Still, he retains the No. 1 ranking no matter if Del Potro or the Novak Djokovic-Kei Nishikori semifinal victor lifts the U.S. Open trophy Sunday.

"I waited as much as I can", Nadal said.

Of the 61 sets they've had available to play in their matches, they've used 49 of them, or 80%, making them one of the more likely pairings in the men's game to go the distance.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion also reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open this year, as well as the semi-finals at Wimbledon. Australia, Roland Garros and Wimbledon present their own unique challenges, but NY, the final major, is an island unto itself.

Rafael Nadal felt the pain sear into his right knee early in his US Open semifinal, on what he called "a bad movement".

On the other hand, Djokovic beat Nishikori to reach the final. But I think now he's more comfortable with it.

"Of course because I won my only Grand Slam here", he said.

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Given that I've already sided heavily with Del Potro pre-tournament, I won't be looking to increase my exposure here, but I wouldn't discourage anyone from supporting him to win 3-2 at around [9.00]: he's already beaten Nadal and Federer on the hard courts this year and can complete his triumvirate scalping here. After that, I was just trying to see if in some moment the thing can improve during the match.

"I don't know what can happen in a couple of days or a couple of weeks".

Djokovic's record compares with one grand slam for del Potro - the US Open in 2009.

High on confidence after his Wimbledon triumph in July, the Serbian will undoubtedly start as the favourite against Del Potro on Sunday.

It was plain sailing for the 31-year-old Serb who is chasing a 14th Slam title to take him level with Pete Sampras on the all-time list. "The good thing is I know how I have to work to be better as soon as possible because we have a lot of experience on that". That's what I say that this could be my favourite tournament. For as great as they all were back in the day - and you can pick the day, any day - the sport has evolved into a grueling, punishing, physical test, with this tournament the epitome of the game's evolution. Del Potro knows how it feels to deal with injuries as he had four wrist surgeries.

In a total of 49 sets played, Del Potro and Djokovic have contested seven tie-breaks, or one every seven sets. Now I'm much older.

Nine years ago, he stunned Nadal in the semifinals and Roger Federer in the final at the US Open at age 20.

But six months later he was sidelined by right wrist problems and, having fought back to the top again, then missed the better part of two years when an injury to his left wrist required three operations.

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