Del Potro reaches final after Nadal forced to quit

Rafael Nadal agrees with Serena Williams 'Now wins are more special'

A tired and wounded world number one Rafael Nadal retired from his U.S. Open semi-final while trailing Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (3) 6-2 on Friday, sending the Argentine back to the Flushing Meadows final for the first time since his 2009 triumph.

Del Potro, who has also had his career disrupted by injuries, was not happy to get the victory the way he did but the big-hitting Argentine will now get a chance to raise a Grand Slam trophy nine years after his first.

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

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates victory following his men's singles semi-final match against Kei Nishikori of Japan on Day Twelve of the 2018 U.S Open on September 7, 2018 in New York City. "I don't like to see him suffering on court today".

That is now three tough matches in a row for Nadal who, despite being one of the fittest players on tour, is bound to be feeling the physical effects of such exertion.

Nadal was devastated by having to pull out although he believes he hasn't suffered any long term damage.

"I had some issues during the tournament", Nadal said.

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It was the second time this year that the world number one has retired from a slam as he also quit during his quarter-final against Marin Cilic at the Australian Open in January.

"That was not a tennis match at the end".

That included nearly five hours to defeat Dominic Thiem in an epic quarter-final which stretched into the early hours of Wednesday morning.

A win would make this his best year in almost a decade. "I love to play with Rafa because he's the biggest fighter in this sport". I have tremendous expect for him.

Nadal's challenge looked doomed even as early as the first set, feeling the injury after just four games, he admitted.

It's the 10th time del Potro has beaten the No. 1 player, so this isn't new ground for him.

Nadal recovered in typically gutsy fashion, but took a medical timeout at the end of the game for more treatment and it soon became clear he was in major trouble.

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It was Nadal who succeeded Del Potro as the US Open champion in 2010.

While Djokovic has been able to routinely beat Nishikori in their previous meetings, Nadal and Del Potro have only met on four occasions since 2013.

However, Djokovic eventually broke for a 3-2 lead in the second and there was an inevitability to proceedings thereafter.

Del Potro was playing so well though and there was no way back for Nadal.

'I waited as much as I can.

Djokovic's most recent win over him was in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon this summer, on his way to winning the title.

Rafael Nadal tried to put a fearless face on it but the defending US Open champion could not hide his frustration after yet another physical setback denied him the chance to add to his haul of Grand Slam titles.

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