US Open: Djokovic beats Nishikori to enter final

Rafael Nadal of Spain watches a shot during a match with Dominic Thiem of Austria during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament early Wednesday Sept. 5 2018 in New York

Rafael Nadal of Spain watches a shot during a match with Dominic Thiem of Austria during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament early Wednesday Sept. 5 2018 in New York

Juan Martin del Potro reached the US Open final on Friday after defending champion and world number one Rafael Nadal quit their last-four clash with a knee injury.

"It's not a tennis match when one is playing and the other is at the side of the court".

A great day for Djokovic - but not so much for Nadal.

"I saw today before the match against Nadal a stat that he's the player that made most wins against No. 1's in the world".

The retirement automatically gives the Argentine the final berth, with the World No. 3 on the brink of what will be only his second ever Grand Slam title. del Potro will face the victor of the semi-final clash between Japan's Kei Nishikori and Serbia's Novak Djokovic, which is now underway.

"I was returning well", Djokovic said after the game. "You have to execute the shots".

Remarkably, it is the eighth US Open final the Serb has reached, and he could hardly look any more impressive in doing so as he continued his fine form in NY.

"There was always part of me that believed I could come back relatively quickly to the level of tennis that I once was playing", the sixth seed told reporters after he completed a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 semi-final demolition of Japan's Kei Nishikori.

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I had some issues during the tournament. I am enjoying (being) on the court. "I'm sad for him".

NY fans took the "Tower of Tandil" to their hearts in 2009, won over by the soft-spoken player with the out-sized 1.98m frame and overpowering game. He was visited by a trainer at the changeover after the match's seventh game and tape was applied below the joint.

The world number one had headed into the tie after a marathon quarter-final tie against Dominic Thiem, who pushed the Spaniard to the limits on a humid night in NY.

But del Potro was on fumes by then after winning his own memorable five-setter against Thiem in the fourth round and beating Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

WHAT IT MEANS: The US Open will crown a repeat men's champion on Sunday. That might make him the hungrier player but a large contingent of Argentines is sure to make him the crowd favourite. "I was suffering a lot". I didn't expect to get in another grand slam final.

After almost two weeks of heat in the 90s, it cooled to the 70s, although the humidity was still at about 70 percent. He and Nadal have developed a respect for each other. He dealt with depression. "I said to my box immediately that I felt something on the knee".

Nadal had won seven of nine against del Potro.

The Japanese world No. 21 was aiming to join countrywoman Naomi Osaka in the U.S Open finals, but lost to Djokovic in a straightforward match: 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Initially able only to hit slice backhands, Del Potro began to trust his two-hander more and, with it, the 29-year-old again became a major force. It was clear something was wrong. "Even when he dropped his ranking and started to, you know, work his way up, but we all knew that he has a capacity and a quality to get to the point where he is at the moment". Could be a week.

He will need all their cheers and chants of "Ole, Ole, Ole, Del-Po, Del-Po" as he takes on a rampaging Novak Djokovic in a quest for his second Major title.

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