World No.3 Juan Martin del Potro reached his first Grand Slam final in almost a decade after Rafael Nadal retired with a knee injury with Del Potro leading two sets to love in the US Open semis on Friday.
Del Potro, who hasn’t dropped a set this fortnight, led 7-6, 6-2, when the defending champion, Nadal retired after receiving treatment on the knee twice.
“Of course it’s not the best way to win a match,” said Del Potro, who will now face Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday.
“I love to play against Rafa because he’s the biggest fighter in this sport and I don’t like to see him suffering like he did on court today, so I’m sad for him.”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 7, 2018
Nadal had said he was not feeling any pains during practice before the match. The issue started in the first set and he couldn’t bear it any longer after the second.
“I felt it and I said to my box I felt something on the knee. After that I was trying to see if in some moment it would improve in the match, but it was not today.”
“I waited as much as I could, it was very difficult for me to say goodbye before the match finished but at some position you have to make a decision,” Nadal added.
Del Potro, 29, will now take on Novak Djokovic in what is, of course, their first meeting in a Grand Slam final.
Djokovic, who’s bidding for a third title at Flushing Meadows, eased past Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the wee hours of Saturday.
This will be the Serb’s second Grand Slam final on the trot since his return from a devastating injury this year.
“It means the world to me obviously,” Djokovic said. “Like thousands of other tennis players around the world I’m trying to be the best I can be.”