retires to send Del Potro into U.S. Open final
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[September 08, 2018]
By Steve Keating
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A weary 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.
Nadal, who had never before retired from a U.S. Open match, showed
signs of distress almost from the start as he limped noticeably
after a grueling 69-minute opening set.
Grimacing with every sudden move, the 17-time Grand Slam winner
called for the trainer during the changeover on serve at 2-1 in the
The defending champion had his knee massaged and re-taped and
bravely continued through the second set before telling the umpire
he was unable to continue.
"I think it was two-all in the first, 15-love, something like this
in the first set, that I felt (something)," said Nadal. "I said to
my box immediately that I felt something on the knee.
"After that, I was just trying to see if in some moment the thing
can improve during the match.
"But no, was not the day.
"I waited as much as I can. You could imagine very difficult for me
to say goodbye before the match finish but at some point you have to
take a decision."
Nadal's stamina and famous fitness have been put to the test on the
sweltering Flushing Meadows hardcourts as he has logged nearly 16
hours through five matches.
The Spaniard was made to work for his place in the last four,
needing a fifth set tiebreak to see off Dominic Thiem in the
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.
"This year have been a fantastic year until this moment," said
Nadal. "I lost four matches. Two of them I had to retire.
"Negative thing is two of them have been in quarter-finals and
semi-finals of a Grand Slam, close to fight for titles.
[to top of second column]
Rafael Nadal of Spain faces Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in a
men's semi-final match on day twelve of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis
tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS
"That's frustrating. Is tough for me."
"I feel that I fight all my career against these kind of things."
One of the greatest players of all time, the one chink in the
Spaniard's armour has always been his knees with injuries plaguing
him throughout his career.
Nadal's all out, take-no-prisoners attacking style has seen his body
absorb more punishment on the court than perhaps any other player,
leaving many to wonder just how long the 32-year-old can continue to
"All my career everybody say that because of my style, I will have a
short career," said Nadal. "I am still here."
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.
The third seed will now await the winner of the second semi-final
between Japan's Kei Nishikori and Serbia's Novak Djokovic.
“It’s not the best way to win a match," said Del Potro, who also
beat Nadal at the same stage of the 2009 U.S. Open to reach what had
been his one and only Grand Slam final.
"I love to play against Rafa because he’s the biggest fighter in
"I’m sad for him."
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar/Peter Rutherford)
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