Rafael Nadal of Spain gestures while challenging a call against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina
08 September, 2018, 02:56
World number one and defending champion Nadal, a three-time US Open champion takes on 2009 victor and world number three Del Potro in their third Grand Slam meeting this year. My biggest memories are on this court when I beat Rafa than Roger [Federer] - but I was a kid.
Across the last 12 months, Nadal and Del Potro have actually held serve the same amount on hard court - 88.3% - but Nadal has a huge advantage on return, breaking opponents 31.6% to the Argentine's 23.3%, data which does make the current market lines some value.
But it was a worry for a player who has suffered serious knee injuries in the past and the pain proved too much for the 17-time Grand Slam champion. This was the first retirement for Nadal since the Australian Open, bothered with his right knee after playing with no energy after spending so much time on the court in the previous rounds.
He said: "Just something that I felt, but I try always during the tournaments don't speak much about this kind of things".
Nadal has played 13 sets in his last three matches and it appears to have come at a cost.
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He needed his right knee strapped after the seventh game before gallantly fighting off two set points in the 10th game, breaking Del Potro who was serving for the set.
Nadal's stamina and famous fitness have been put to the test on the sweltering Flushing Meadows hardcourts as he has logged almost 16 hours through five matches. But it was so hard for me, so much pain. The two that preceded the Wimbledon classic were easier victories, a semifinal rout en route to the French Open title and a four-set victory in last year's U.S. Open semifinals, when Nadal dominated the last three sets. I've seen a chance, but I haven't been able to make the last step.
Thus, del Potro will compete in his second Grand Slam final after the US Open 2009 when he claimed his lone Major crown, again after a win over Nadal in the semis.
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. The trainer returned at the beginning of the second to re-tape it and then returned at the end of the second set, before Nadal decided he could not continue on.
The Spaniard was simply unable to recover and had his knee attended to again in the second set as Del Potro marched through to take it 6-2 with minimal trouble. I didn't expect to get in another grand slam final.
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