Injured Nadal stops, putting del Potro back in US Open final

US Open 2018 results: Juan Martin del Potro advances to finals after Rafael Nadal retires

Del Potro sent him home in the first round and Djokovic left the court in tears, the beginning of his injury and motivation struggles that lasted from the 2016 French Open until the 2018 season.

Djokovic tied Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras for the most US Open finals appearances in the Open era.

There were other issues for him, too, including in the third set when, ahead by a break, he was called by the chair umpire for allowing the 25-second serve clock, making its Grand Slam debut at this tournament, run out on back-to-back points.

Del Potro advanced after defending champion and world No. 1 Rafael Nadal was forced to quit the US Open semifinal because of a knee injury.

Del Potro lost almost two years, undergoing three operations and fearing his career was finished.

He holds a 14-4 career record over del Potro, and has won six of their last seven matches dating to the 2013 Wimbledon semi-final, which Djokovic won in five tough sets.

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All four players have reached the U.S. Open final - only Nishikori hasn't won it. Del Potro, 29, is familiar with the feeling of losing out on trophies because of injuries.

"I like to play always with the No. 1 of the world, doesn't matter the tournament or the conditions or the weather", del Potro said of the three-time US Open champion and 17-time Grand Slam title holder Nadal.

"Serve. Return. Groundstrokes. He was playing aggressive".

The third seed, at a career-high ranking of three, is relishing being back at this level after all his injury problems and is hoping to go one better than at Wimbledon.

All four players have reached the U.S. Open final - only Nishikori hasn't won it - to make this the first Grand Slam final four since the 2012 Australian Open in which all four players were past finalists.

"I think it was two-all in the first, 15-love, something like this in the first set, that I felt (something)", said Nadal. "But I think that is completely in the past, and now I'm having a good present, looking forward for the future". When you play tournaments like this, when you have a day off during matches, it's very important to put your body in rest and do the treatments in the good way. I [had] been suffering a lot.

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"It's not the best way to win a match", said Del Potro.

Having also had to wear tape on his knee, in his third round match against Karen Khachanov, and trailing by two sets here, Rafa was in too much pain to continue and had no choice but to surrender his crown prematurely.

And he will start the heavy favourite, boasting a 14-4 record over the Argentine who will be playing in just his second final at the Slams. They are the first pair to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same year since Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge in 2003.

'I know that I feel very comfortable here. I know what I have.

Nadal eventually won in five sets but it took all his enormous powers to repel the lethal Del Potro forehand after nearly five hours.

On a blockbuster day, Arthur Ashe Stadium will be treated to a couple of epic matches between four outstanding players who have shone through at Flushing Meadows. "But because he plays so fast he makes me more alert from the first point because I know I have to be at my best in order to compete with him from the baseline".

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