Novak Djokovic is into an eighth US Open final
Djokovic is eyeing his 14th Grand Slam having reached his eighth final in New York with a dominant display over Kei Nishikori.
The Serbian, who has won twice at Flushing Meadows, didn’t drop serve once as he won 80 per cent of his first serve points and broke Nishikori four times as he got 81 per cent of his returns back in play.
In 2014, Nishikori beat Djokovic on his way to the US Open final.
But on this occasion, the 21st seed had no answer to the brilliance coming from Djokovic’s racket.
And on match point, Djokovic sealed the win with a breathtaking backhand winner down the line on the full stretch.
“It felt great. I thought I came out of the blocks with great intensity and focus,” Djokovic said.
“Kei Nishikori is one of the quickest movers on the court. He takes away a lot of your time but I thought I took the points and played really well.
“The majors are the biggest events we have in tennis and obviously every player wants to perform their best in Grand Slams.
“I have lost some big finals but also won some. Every time I come back to Arthur Ashe stadium I relive these memories and they give me a lot of strength.
Novak Djokovic was unstoppable against Kei Nishikori
“It means the world to me. I am trying to be the best that I can be. I am working hard every day and I am trying to reach certain heights that I visualise every time I accomplish something big. I don’t see any limits. I keep on going and hopefully, you are enjoying my tennis.”
It marks another stunning turnaround for one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Last year saw Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal share the slams and return to their former glories.
And this looks to be the Serb’s year if he can convert a second slam of the season.
Djokovic looked on his way out last year, suffering with an elbow problem and personal issues, but he’s battled back winning Wimbledon and reaching the final in New York.
He faces another rejuventated star in Del Potro, who came through against Nadal.
In the first semi-final of the day, Nadal was forced to retire before a ball was struck in the third set after his chronic knee problems were too much to play through.
The players exchanged breaks at the start of the first set but the first sign of an issue for Nadal came when he had tape applied to his knee at 4-3.
Del Potro broke again to serve for the set at 5-4 and had a set point but faltered which opened the door for Nadal to take advantage and break back.
The set went to a tiebreak and Del Potro won it as Nadal made a series of errors.
Rafael Nadal received treatment on his knee in the first set
Down 2-1 in the second set, Nadal took a medical timeout as the tournament trainer applied more tape to his right knee and heavily massaged his leg.
But it didn’t improve Nadal’s condition as he was broken straight afterwards and then dropped serve again to lose the set 6-2.
After one final chat with the trainer, Nadal took off his headband and sweatband before shaking hands with Del Potro and departing Arthur Ashe Stadium.
It is the second Grand Slam this year that Nadal has retired hurt.
And after the match Nadal’s disappointment at having to quit was evident.
Rafael Nadal was unable to continue and retired hurt
He said: “I waited as much as I can. You could imagine very difficult for me to say goodbye before the match finish. But at some point, you have to take a decision.
“It was so difficult for me to keep playing at the same time that way, having too much pain.
“That was not a tennis match at the end, no? It was just one player playing, the other one staying on the other side of the court.
“I hate to retired, but stay one more set out there playing like this will be too much for me.”
For Del Potro, Sunday’s final will be his first since the 2009 US Open final when he beat Roger Federer for his maiden Grand Slam.
Juan Martin Del Potro consoles Rafael Nadal
And the Argentine is delighted to be in the final of his favourite event.
“Of course because I won my only Grand Slam here,” he said.
“When I was a kid, I mix watching soccer and the US Open, that’s it. That’s what I say that this could be my favourite tournament.
“Then I came here, playing every year. I played well. I got too much energy from the crowd. I have a lot of fans who came specifically to this tournament. That’s why it is my favourite one on tour.”