'I'll be back' vows Nadal after injury halts US Open repeat bid

08 September, 2018, 08:56 | Author: Alyssa Little
  • Rafael Nadal will face Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open semi-final

Nadal suffered problems with his right knee during his third-round win over Russian Karen Khachanov but insisted it was not a major issue and subsequently won gruelling matches against Nikoloz Basilashvili and Dominic Thiem.

The Spaniard had spent almost 16 hours on court in the five matches leading up to this match, the most of any semifinalist by a wide margin.

Nadal said that he first felt a knee problem in his second- or third-round match last week and that it acted up again Friday starting in the fifth game.

"It was very hard to say goodbye before the match has finished", said Nadal, who also retired from Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January.

"That was not a tennis match at the end, no?"

However, his condition notably deteriorated against Del Potro and a medical timeout early in the second set failed to bring the desired results for the Spaniard, forcing him to end the contest when trailing 7-6 (7-3) 6-2. "I was a kid then; now I am much older".

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"All my career everybody say that because of my style, I will have a short career", Nadal, who is three behind Roger Federer in Grand Slam titles, added. He's made the French Open semifinals, the Wimbledon quarterfinals, and now a US Open final this year. "I will be proud if I (am) still playing tennis for more years".

Arthur Ashe Stadium had not long emptied, stunned by the retirement of Nadal after two sets, when Djokovic put Nishikori under immediate pressure in the second semi-final.

An eighth final is within reach and to achieve that, the 31-year-old expects Nishikori to make him sweat - literally. "I don't know. I would give slight advantage to Rafa, but I feel it's going to be a great match".

Djokovic reached the final at Flushing Meadows after breezing past Kei Nishikori in the last four, beating the Japanese star 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

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. "You could imagine very hard for me to say goodbye before the match finish but at some point you have to take a decision". Against Djokovic, del Potro is 4-14 in his career, including 0-3 in majors.

He needed his right knee strapped after the seventh game before gallantly fighting off two set points in the 10th game, breaking Del Potro who was serving for the set. "I still here. I still here because I love what I am doing", said Nadal. This is my favourite tournament, my biggest memories on a tennis court came on this court in 2009.

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