Djokovic, del Potro need no OT to advance to US Open final

Rafael Nadal agrees with Serena Williams 'Now wins are more special'

Nadal, who was bidding to win his 18th Grand Slam title, faced similar issues during his third-round match against Russia's Karen Khachanov.

The world number one had spent more almost 16 hours on court in reaching the last four, averaging more than four hours a match during the last three rounds, and that took its toll here.

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

"That was not a tennis match at the end".

Nadal, the world's No. 1 player and the defending champion in NY, retired against Juan Martin del Potro, trailing 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 about two hours into the first semifinal of the day in Flushing Meadows.

The No. 1-seeded Nadal has a history of tendinitis in his knees, and he's often cited that when withdrawing from tournaments.

"It's not the best way to win a match", said Del Potro, who also beat Nadal at the same stage of the 2009 U.S. Open to reach what had been his one and only Grand Slam final.

It was the second time this year that the world number one has retired from a slam as he also quit during his quarter-final against Marin Cilic at the Australian Open in January. "I will be proud if I (am) still playing tennis for more years".

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He has won the last 13 although Nishikori defeated the Serb in NY in the 2014 semi-finals on his way to a runners-up spot against Marin Cilic.

The 31-year-old, who was beaten by Nishikori at Flushing Meadows in 2014, sealed victory on his second match point to improve his head-to-head record against the Japanese to 15 wins from 17 meetings. "I think the key of the match was the first set".

But he took a medical time-out after three games of the second set and, as he limped around the court, it became increasingly clear that he was in serious trouble.

On men's semifinal day at the US Open on Friday, Novak Djokovic, the No. 6 seed, made his second consecutive major final with a convincing straight-sets performance against Kei Nishikori.

Nadal has played 13 sets in his last three matches and it appears to have come at a cost.

Del Potro consoles an emotional Rafael Nadal at the US Open.

It took Nishikori more than a quarter of an hour to get on the board on Friday, but, on a night when injury was the talking point, he pulled up dramatically mid-point in the ninth game, grabbing at his right leg, before holding to keep the set alive at 3-5. Initially able only to hit slice backhands, Del Potro began to trust his two-hander more and, with it, the 29-year-old again became a major force.

Nadal tried to play through the pain but when Del Potro blasted a forehand victor to go ahead 7-6 (3) 6-2 the Spaniard removed his headband and said he could not continue.

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