September 21, 2018
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Del Potro reaches US Open final when Nadal retires with knee injury

New York, Sep 7 (efe-epa).- Third-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro advanced Friday to the US Open final when Rafael Nadal was forced to retire from their semi-final match with a knee injury while trailing 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

Nadal, who received treatment on his right knee on several occasions, appeared to pay the price for all the time he spent on court earlier in this hard-court Grand Slam tennis tournament.

The top-seeded Spaniard called for the trainer and had a bandage wrapped just below his knee midway through the first set, although he later took it off after going down a break of serve.

Nadal showed his renowned fighting spirit to save two set points with Del Potro serving at 5-4 and then force a tiebreaker.

But the Argentine cleared a big hurdle when he dominated the "breaker" and clinched the hard-fought first set in one hour and nine minutes.

Nadal later had his knee bandaged again, but his physical problems worsened and forced him to retire after Del Potro broke his serve to win a lopsided second set.

Earlier in the event, the Spanish 17-time Grand Slam champion had been forced to battle for four hours and 23 minutes to defeat Russia's Karen Khachanov in the third round and for four hours and 49 minutes to outlast Austria's Dominic Thiem in a quarter-final match that ended in the wee hours of Wednesday.

"I love to play against Rafa because he's the biggest fighter," the Argentine said in an on-court interview." "I don't like to see him suffer and I'm saddened for him. But anyway the key of the match was the first set. We both played good tennis and I did well in the tie-break."

The 29-year-old Del Potro finds himself in a Grand Slam final for the second time in his career and at the same venue where he won his lone major title nine years ago.

The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Argentine, who possesses arguably the biggest forehand in tennis, was expected to win many other big trophies until a series of wrist injuries derailed his promising career.

But he has put those physical problems behind him and had the best two-year stretch of his career starting with the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he won a silver medal in men's singles.

Del Potro, who also defeated Nadal en route to the 2009 US Open title, will next play the winner of Friday's second men's singles semi-final pitting Japanese No. 21 seed Kei Nishikori against Serbian No. 6 seed and 13-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.

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