Juan Martin del Potro reached his first Grand Slam final in nine years after Rafael Nadal retired from their US Open semi-final.
Argentine third seed Del Potro was leading 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 when Nadal, the defending champion, was forced to quit because of a knee problem.
Juan Martin del Potro moves into his second Grand Slam final. After the Argentine took a 7-6(3), 6-2 lead, three-time #USOpen champion Rafael Nadal retired from their semi-final. pic.twitter.com/f3Rgu0wLzd
— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) September 7, 2018
Nadal said: “I think it was 2-2 in the first, 15-0, that I felt it. I said to my box immediately that I felt something on the knee. After that, I was just trying to see if in some moment the thing can improve during the match. But no, was not the day.
“I waited as much as I can. But at some point you have to take a decision. It was so difficult for me to keep playing at the same time that way, having too much pain.
“That was not a tennis match at the end. It was just one player playing, the other one staying on the other side of the court. I hate to retire, but to stay one more set out there playing like this will be too much for me.”
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.
Del Potro led a standing ovation on Arthur Ashe Stadium when Nadal walked gingerly off court.
“It is not the best way to win a match. I love to play against Rafa because he is the biggest fighter in the sport,” Del Potro said.
“I don’t like to see him suffering like today. I am sad for him. I think the key of the match was the first set.”
Del Potro, 29, last competed in a Grand Slam final when he won at Flushing Meadows in 2009.
He contemplated quitting tennis after a series of wrist injuries but recovered to such an extent that he has reached his highest ranking this year.
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