Rafael Nadal retires to send Juan Martin del Potro into the final!

Rafael Nadal retires to send Juan Martin del Potro into the final!

Juan Martin del Potro is advancing to the US Open final for the first time since winning the tournament in 2009. "I love to play against Rafa because he's the biggest fighter in this sport". Del Potro hugged the line then, and again on Friday. While an nearly five hour quarter-final victory over Dominic Thiem, it would be fair to state concerns over the winning player in their subsequent match, but the quirks of the US Open schedule mean that the Spaniard will have had nearly 72 hours to recover from these exertions - virtually unheard of recovery time in the latter stages of professional tennis tournaments.

All four players have reached the U.S. Open final - only Nishikori hasn't won it - to make this the first Grand Slam final four since the 2012 Australian Open in which all four players were past finalists. After that I was just trying to wait for some improvement.

The good news for Djokovic: Since losing two of his first three matches against Nishikori he has won all 13. You could imagine very hard for me to say good-bye before the match finished.

Having fought through his own injury-ravaged years, Del Potro understood his opponent's pain and gave him a warm embrace before he left the court. The two that preceded the Wimbledon classic were easier victories, a semifinal rout en route to the French Open title and a four-set victory in last year's U.S. Open semifinals, when Nadal dominated the last three sets. He has a 14-2 record against Nishikori, whose last victory over the Serb came in the 2014 U.S. Open semi-finals before he lost in the showpiece match to Croatian Marin Cilic, who the Japanese overcame in five sets to reach this year's last four. I feel that this is largely due to these fitness concerns, but the lengthy rest period for Nadal is likely to be of great benefit.

The top-ranked Spaniard plays third-seeded del Potro, and No. 6 seed Djokovic meets No. 21 Kei Nishikori in Friday's other semifinal. I know he's playing well.

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He called for the trainer during the changeover on serve at 2-1 in the second. I've seen a chance, but I haven't been able to make the last step.

Nadal took a medical timeout for treatment after falling down a break, 1-2 in the second set, and was not moving at 100% thereafter.

Over and out: Rafael Nadal, of Spain, waves to fans after retiring from the match.

"It's not the best way to win a match", said Del Potro.

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

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