Rafael Nadal retires in US Open semi-final with knee injury

Novak Djokovic Roger Federer Rafael Nadal have been my role models

Nadal had had his right knee taped during his gruelling third-round clash against Karen Khachanov but insisted afterwards it was not a big issue and he appeared in good shape for his next two matches.

Nadal said he didn't know what kind of effects might have been lingering from his quarterfinal victory over Dominic Thiem, which lasted five sets and almost five hours.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal retired injured from his semi-final match against No. 3 Juan Martin del Potro. "But it was not a tennis match at the end".

"I hate retiring but to stay one more set out there playing like that is too much for me", said Nadal.

Nadal, the defending U.S Open champion, was trailing 7-6, 6-2 when a knee problem forced him to stop after nearly two hours of playing time. "I said to my box immediately that I felt something on the knee". Nine years ago, he stunned Nadal in the semifinals, then Roger Federer in the final, to win the US Open at age 20.

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Rafael Nadal gave and gave at this U.S. Open, spending 17 hours and 55 minutes pounding his 32-year-old knees on hard court and supplying two marathon blocks of entertainment before his body finally gave out. It was so hard for me to keep playing, I was in too much pain.

Djokovic has dropped only two sets en route to the final. I didn't expect to get in another grand slam final.

But first, he will have to defeat Del Potro, who represents a stiffer test for Djokovic than Nishikori.

In the sixth game of the second set, he argued with umpire James Keothavong over a line call, telling the British official: "It's all right, i'm going to retire, but you were not right on this one".

Nadal came through an enthralling five-set quarter final with Dominic Thiem in which he lost the first set 0-6 before rallying to clinch the match on a tie-break in the deciding set. "I still here. I still here because I love what I am doing", said Nadal.

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Djokovic, who was forced to skip last year's tournament due to an elbow injury and returned to the tour this year after surgery, said he was thrilled to be back on the big stage.

It's the 10th time del Potro has beaten the No. 1 player, so this isn't new ground for him.

It was plain sailing for the 31-year-old Serb who is chasing a 14th Slam title to take him level with Pete Sampras on the all-time list.

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.

While Djokovic has been able to routinely beat Nishikori in their previous meetings, Nadal and Del Potro have only met on four occasions since 2013.

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Djokovic and del Potro will face each other in the finals on Sunday.

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