Del Potro may be the higher seeded player at No 3, but Djokovic, the No 6 seed, is the favourite to be the victor in NY. "But no, it was not the day", Nadal said. "Maybe if he wasn't Novak, I might have [a] chance to play little better".
"I don't see any limits". But no, was not the day.
Djokovic broke Nishikori's next serve and, with Nishikori unable to break any of the Serbian's serves, the second set went to Djokovic's name at 6-4.
"I think it was 2-2 in the first, 15-0, that I felt it".
"I hate to retire", said Nadal, a player plagued by a series of knee injuries throughout his career. "Even when he dropped his ranking and started to, you know, work his way up, but we all knew that he has a capacity and a quality to get to the point where he is at the moment". "Every time I step out on this court I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to play this sport".
"It's not a match when one is playing and the other is at the side of the court". No. 3 Juan Martin del Potro, and No. 6 Novak Djokovic vs. He rose after a quick chat, shook the chair umpire's hand and then told Del Potro.
"He was playing aggressive".
Despite that record, Del Potro is under no illusions regarding the favourite for their tie.
It was the second time this year that the world number one has retired from a slam as he also quit during his quarter-final against Marin Cilic at the Australian Open in January.
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Juan Martin del Potro, of Argentina, hit tennis ball to fans following a match against Rafael Nadal, of Spain, during the semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, in NY. Tendonitis has dogged him.
"He's a dear friend, someone I respect a lot", the Serb said of Del Potro. Was not something progressive. "I am focused on trying to make that happen". She missed a chance earlier this summer when she fell to Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon final. "When I was a kid, I mix watching soccer and the US Open, that's it".
The third seed will now await the victor of the second semi-final between Japan's Kei Nishikori and Serbia's Novak Djokovic. That was the last thing Nadal needed.
He is 45-4 this season, with half the losses due to injury retirements.
"I feel that I fight all my career against these kind of things". I am playing well. It's inspiring, actually. I don't think a lot of people really know how bad it was.
"But at the same time, I felt like the six months off served me very well to find new motivation, inspiration, to recharge my batteries".
Defending champion Rafael Nadal retired from his U.S. Open semifinal because of a painful right knee after dropping the opening two sets, putting Juan Martin del Potro back in a Grand Slam final for the first time since he won the 2009 title at Flushing Meadows.
NOVAK Djokovic, the two-time champion, will face 2009 victor Juan Martin del Potro for the US Open title on Sunday (Monday AEST). But if there is one player who deserves a slightly less strenuous path to a Grand Slam final, it is del Potro.