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

Bobbie Reid
September 11, 2018

Novak Djokovic sat out last year's US Open to rest an elbow injury that eventually required surgery, but that pain and frustration felt like a distant memory on Friday when he made his march on the final at Flushing Meadows with authority.

Del Potro won his only Slam at the tournament in 2009, memorably defeating Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer back-to-back to achieve the goal.

Del Potro awaits the victor of the Kei Nishikori-Novak Djokovic match in the finals.

Rafa Nadal quits after dropping the opening two sets against Juan Martin del Potro in their US Open semifinal.

Del Potro, whose own injury troubles have been well-documented, will therefore get a chance to repeat his 2009 triumph in NY. Djokovic shut himself down for the last half of 2017, sitting out the U.S. Open among other events and, after a brief attempt to play at the start of this season, had an operation in February.

Del Potro did survive, dramatically so.

It was Nadal's second retirement from a Slam this year - both on hard courts - after Australia.

But, Djokovic has been through his own journey and a third US Open title would complete his return to the top echelons of the sport and serve as a warning that the Djokovic dynasty was never over, it was just on a brief hiatus.

"He's had lots of injury problems in the past but he's a big-match player".

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Nishikori claimed arguably the best win of his career against Djokovic at the same stage in 2014 to reach his only Grand Slam final but has lost the subsequent 13 matches.

Nadal attempted to hold his serve down 2-5 in the second but was broken to drop the set.

Nishikori has enough about him to make this a competitive affair and we should see plenty of long rallies, but if Djokovic plays to his best then there will only be one victor.

He won 11 off the 22 grand slam titles played in the period, and was a losing finalist in seven of the other tournaments.

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

"It means the world to me obviously", he added. Six months off you are back.' I know what I have to do to be better as soon as possible.

"I am playing the right way and enjoying things". Del Potro was playing so well though and there was no way back for Nadal.

"The worst moment was in 2015 when I was close to quitting because I couldn't find a way to fix my wrist problems", he said. 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. But the Spaniard - who played the two longest matches of the tournament going into his semi-final - is not advocating three-set slam matches, even in the early rounds, a proposition gathering some fringe support. "I know what is going on with the knee".

Djokovic went into cruise control in the third set, winning four consecutive games from 2-2 to win the match and book his spot in the final. "I got depressed for couple of months also".

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