Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

No sweat! Djokovic admits 2018 US Open toughest mission

Nadal Del Potro Cilic US Open Marin Cilic has tipped Rafael Nadal to beat Juan Martin del Potro
Eugene Bates | 08 September, 2018, 08:55

The warning signs were there from the moment when Nadal called the trainer on to the court to apply tape to his cranky right knee, which has been an issue since his third-round match against Karen Khachanov.

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.

Devastated Rafael Nadal vowed the knee injury that forced him out of the US Open semi-final on Friday won't stop him chasing more Grand Slam glory.

The US Open men's semi-finals take place tonight in NY, and returning to preview the two matches, is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston. "Just one player playing, the other staying on one side of the court", Nadal said.

While there was frustration for Nadal, victory for Del Potro saw the Argentinean return to a Grand Slam final for the first time in nine years when he memorably won the US Open aged 20, beating Nadal and Federer on the way.

The No. 1-seeded Nadal has a history of tendinitis in his knees, and he's often cited that when withdrawing from tournaments.

Only Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras have been to the NY decider as often as the remarkable Serb, who lost on his last visit two years ago, to Stan Wawrinka, and has won twice, against Roger Federer in 2015 and Nadal in 2011, the best season of his career.

He also retired trailing in the fifth set of his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January. But at the same time I have to keep going and working hard to get more opportunities.

Djokovic has won his past 13 sets in NY.

"I didn't expect to get to another Grand Slam final in my favourite tournament". A lot of people in this room, including me, didn't think I would be at this level at this age.

Grimacing with every sudden move, the 17-time Grand Slam victor called for the trainer during the changeover on serve at 2-1 in the second.

The defending champion meets Del Potro for the second year in a row at the US Open semi-finals and he will draw upon the experience of having won that match and also having defeated the Argentine at both the French Open and Wimbledon this year.

He will have a shot at the hat-trick on Sunday, though, when he comes up against 2009 champion Del Potro.

Many experts have long felt Nadal's physical style of play, which relies on power and athleticism in contrast to his more graceful rival Roger Federer, puts him more at risk of injury.

"I didn't know", he said, "if I will be a tennis player again or not".

Nishikori began the third set with a confident hold of serve but the 28-year-old made four unforced errors in his next service game to set Djokovic on the road to victory. "But at some point you have to take a decision", Nadal told reporters.

Del Potro sensed blood and broke for 3-1 as Nadal struggled for movement.

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