US Open Day 12 Men's Tips: Nadal generously priced against Del Potro

Mae Harvey
September 8, 2018

Nadal suffered a recurrence of his persistent knee injuries during a gruelling third round victory against Karen Khachanov and the problem became worse during the first set on Friday.

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.

The No. 1-seeded Nadal has a history of tendinitis in his knees and he said he felt a problem in the right one early in the first set.

Rafael Nadal of Spain waves to the crowd after retiring from a men's semi-final match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on day twelve of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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

"I hate to retire, but to stay one more set out there, playing like this, would be too much for me", Nadal said.

"You could imagine very hard for me to say goodbye before the match finish".

"These moments are tough but I have to keep going and working hard to get more opportunities".

He should have won the first set more easily, as he served for the first set at 5-4 and blew two set points with unforced errors.

"I'm having two great years", added Nadal, who was trying to complete a French Open-US Open double for the second straight season. Lot of people in this room, including myself, never will think that at the age of 32 I will be here fighting for titles, fighting for the first positions of the rankings.

That didn't stop him losing the set, though, and he was forced to save five more break points at the beginning of the second in a 14-minute game.

After edging a 69-minute set, Del Potro applied pressure early in the second, thundering winners off both wings to get to 15-40 in game two.

Del Potro, who has returned to the pinnacle of the sport after recovering from two wrist surgeries in 2010, had lost to Nadal the last three times the players had met in grand slams and had lost 11 times from 16 meetings against the Spaniard.

With six years on the 37-year-old Swiss, speculation would no doubt mount as to whether 31-year-old Djokovic - who looks fit, healthy and motivated after a lengthy lay-off with an elbow injury - could even surpass his 20 major haul.

"I always believed I could come back relatively quickly to the level of tennis I was playing", Djokovic said.

Del Potro sensed blood and broke for 3-1 as Nadal struggled for movement.

"It means a lot to me", del Potro said. Certainly, the market has made a big adjustment on predicted pricing, and I'm not at all convinced that it should do to this extent.

"I had my biggest memories on this court in 2009 when I beat Rafa and Roger (Federer, in the final)".

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