Nadal and del Potro meet again in a Grand Slam showdown

Arnold Nichols
September 11, 2018

After fearing his career was over following a trio of operations to his injured left wrist, which forced him to miss the best part of two years, the 29-year-old returned and rebuilt his game.

Nadal, who had never before retired from a U.S. Open match, showed signs of distress nearly from the start as he limped after a grueling 69-minute opening set.

Juan Martin del Potro, of Argentina, returns a shot to Rafael Nadal, of Spain, during the semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, in NY. Nadal has 17, including three at the U.S. Open, and Djokovic could tie Pete Sampras for third all-time with 14 if he wins his third at Flushing Meadows.

A dozen friends from del Potro's hometown of Tandil have gained fame in Flushing Meadows, their serenade of "Ole, ole, ole - Del-Po, Del-Po" an infectious accompaniment to his every match.

"He was playing aggressive". He is 14-2 against Nishikori, including a victory in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

That effort took its toll with the Spaniard twice needing to have his right knee bandaged before calling it a day after the conclusion of the second set. You could imagine very hard for me to say good-bye before the match finish.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates victory following his men´s singles semi-final match against Kei Nishikori of Japan on Day Twelve of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7, 2018.

Djokovic barely played in the second half of 2017 as his ailing body demanded a lengthy hiatus and the rejuvenated Serb now appears hungrier than ever, intent on making up for lost time by claiming a second Grand Slam title of the year.

'It's definitely one of my favourite tournaments to play because of the conditions and because of the fact that I've played so well in each year that I keep on coming back to the US Open. "He's a dear friend, someone that I respect a lot". But I think I've been doing a good tournament.

Djokovic, another player whose recent injury cost him time at the top of the tennis pyramid, won Wimbledon this year and is rounding into his elite form again.

Del Potro advanced when world No.1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal quit their semi-final with a knee injury after dropping the first two sets, 7-6 (7-3) 6-2. "I was in too much pain", he said.

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

"I waited as much as I could. But because he plays so fast he makes me more alert from the first point because I know I have to be at my best in order to compete with him from the baseline".

Djokovic went into cruise control in the third set, winning four consecutive games from 2-2 to win the match and book his spot in the final.

Nadal would figure to have a tougher time in his fourth meeting with del Potro in the last five Grand Slam tournaments. Is maybe an injury that in one week you feel better, is an injury that maybe in six months you don't feel better.

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