Djokovic expecting stern test from 'big-match player' Del Potro

Jo Caldwell
September 8, 2018

Djokovic and Del Potro have faced each other 18 times before with the Serb leading the head-to-head 14-4.

"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.

Del Potro, 29, last competed in a Grand Slam final when he won at Flushing Meadows in 2009.

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.

"I didn't expect to get this kind of emotions playing tennis again".

He has resurrected his career impressively after minor surgery on his long-term elbow injury, which kept him out of the game for six months previous year.

Nadal said he did not sense a return of his chronic knee tendinitis on Thursday when he practised, or warming up before the match.

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Nadal was devastated by having to pull out although he believes he hasn't suffered any long term damage. "You could imagine very hard for me to say goodbye before the match finish but at some point you have to take a decision".

He dug deep for a five-set victory over Marin seventh-seeded Cilic in the quarter-finals, and may have still been feeling the effects against Djokovic.

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

Only Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras have been to the NY decider as often as the remarkable Serb, who lost on his last visit two years ago, to Stan Wawrinka, and has won twice, against Roger Federer in 2015 and Nadal in 2011, the best season of his career.

Nadal's stamina and famous fitness have been put to the test on the sweltering Flushing Meadows hardcourts as he has logged almost 16 hours through five matches. This is not vintage Djokovic just yet, but he is still good enough to win at the highest level.

"I don't like to see him suffering like today". I have tremendous respect for him as a person and a player.

But the Argentine swept through the tiebreaker, wrapping up the opener after 69 minutes of impressive shot-making.

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After just seven games, he called the trainer out onto the court to apply tape to his right knee, a part of his body that is particularly brittle.

The defending champion retired down two sets against del Potro with an ailing knee.

But he could not take either and, once Djokovic broke to lead 3-2, it merely seemed a question of how much resistance his opponent could muster.

Djokovic's most recent win over him was in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon this summer, on his way to winning the title.

"I think it was two-all in the first, 15-love, something like this in the first set, that I felt (something)", said Nadal. "I was a kid then; now I am much older".

"Of course, it's not the best way to win a match", said del Potro, who hugged Nadal when it was over.

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