Nadal injury sends del Potro to U.S. Open final

Rafael Nadal

Del Potro, a 29-year-old Argentine who is no stranger to injury, made his second career Grand Slam final and his first since his epic run to the 2009 U.S. Open title.

Nadal showed signs of distress nearly from the start as he limped noticeably after a gruelling 69-minute opening set.

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.

"You could imagine very hard for me to say goodbye before the match finish. I just have the chance to play the greatest in this sport, and it's wonderful for me".

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.

The Argentine has also beaten Nadal at this stage of the US Open before - a commanding 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 victory on his way to the title in 2009.

Of the now nine grand slams he has played since returning, Del Potro has reached the quarter-finals twice, the semi-finals twice and, at last, another final, where he awaits the victor of Novak Djokovic's clash with Kei Nishikori.

"I didn't expect to get to another Grand Slam final in my favourite tournament".

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 pound away. "I hate to retire, but to stay one more set out there playing like this will be too much for me".

Nadal said: "I can't say that I am happy because I am not". It will be his first time in a Major final since then, although he did make the gold medal match at the Rio Olympics, which he lost to Andy Murray. "I don't like to see him suffering on court like today, so I'm sad for him".

After the third game of the second set, he had a medical timeout so the trainer could massage his right leg and once again apply tape.

Djokovic gained revenge for his 2014 semi-final defeat to extend his winning record to 15-2 against the Japanese trailblazer with a comprehensive 6-3 6-4 6-1 victory.

Djokovic only took one of five in the first set and missed another four in the first game of the second set.

Del Potro, whose own injury troubles have been well-documented, will therefore get a chance to repeat his 2009 triumph in NY. In 2017, Nadal won his first Slams in three years (the French and U.S. Opens), then won his 11th French Open this year.

But Nadal, whose 17 Grand Slam championship trails only Federer's 20, shrugged off that notion. He was considered a rising star at the time, but a series of wrist operations - one on his dominant right arm, and three on his left - slowed his career and kept him out of 2½ years' worth of major tournaments.

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