Rafael Nadal retires from US Open semifinals match

Nadal Del Potro Cilic US Open

The second set was where Nadal's knee problems started aggravating, with a trainer coming on to the court to re-tape Nadal's right knee after it ripped off.

Three days on from his epic five-set victory over Dominic Thiem, the world number one's title defence came to a heartbreaking end as he called a halt to his contest while trailing Del Potro 7-6 [7-3] 6-2.

"I mix it up a lot, my backhands with the slices, drop shots (because of) my wrist problems".

But as those three carved up the Slams between them - 50 in total - Del Potro spent more time on the operating table than on the courts. It just allows me to feel more comfortable playing, starting the tournament and going through it. I got depressed for a couple of months, also.

They have been at all his matches over the course of the fortnight and their constant chanting is inspiring him. "I think that's why people love him". "And in the finals, anything can happen".

I'm having two great years.

"He was always a top five player in the eyes, I think, of everyone".

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

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"It means a lot to me", del Potro said. That's where he got, I feel like, a great confidence boost. "That was the bad moment for me".

"But I think that is completely in the past, and now I'm having a good present, looking forward for the future". I said too my box immediately that I felt something on the knee. "Reaching finals, winning titles, having my highest ranking ever in this moment, everything is nearly ideal". He's done it before, but only four times in 18 meetings.

"A group of about a dozen of del Potro's friends from Argentina would salute important points won by their guy, often breaking into choruses of "'Ole, ole, ole, ole, del Po, del Po!" But Novak has won the Wimbledon already. Also was one of my best week ever on tour, playing for my country in Rio. "He will be the favourite to win on Sunday", he said. "I will try to make the surprise again".

Novak Djokovic rates the US Open as his "most successful Grand Slam", despite amassing fewer titles in Flushing Meadows than at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

This will be Djokovic's eighth U.S. Open final, equaling Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras for the most for a man in the 50-year professional era, but he is only 2-5 so far.

The third seed, who advanced after world number one Rafa Nadal retired from their match due to injury on Friday, said persistent wrist ailments almost led to him exiting the sport in 2015, what he called the "worst moment" of his career. "I am playing well. It was just a matter of time", Djokovic said Friday. He's a big-time player.

"That shows the quality that he has", Djokovic said.

Alec Baldwin of "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock" was seen cheering during the men's semifinals, along with other celebrities such as actor Chevy Chase (with his original "Caddyshack" hat) and four-time Grand Slam victor Manolo Santana.

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