No sweat! Djokovic admits 2018 US Open toughest mission

Tyler Owen
September 8, 2018

Nadal's stamina and famous fitness have been put to the test on the sweltering Flushing Meadows hardcourts as he has logged almost 16 hours through five matches.

And he revealed afterwards that he had felt a sharp pain in his knee as early as the fifth game.

Rafael Nadal of Spain waves to the crowd after retiring from a men's semi-final match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on day twelve of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. "It was not a tennis match at the end".

Argentine third seed Del Potro was leading 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 when Nadal, the defending champion, was forced to quit because of a knee problem.

A dejected Nadal said later: 'I had some issues during the tournament.

"All my career everybody say that because of my style, I will have a short career", Nadal, who is three behind Roger Federer in Grand Slam titles, added. "It was so hard for me to keep playing at the same time that way, having too much pain".

Djokovic has won his past 13 sets in NY. Lot of people in this room, including myself, would never have thought that at the age of 32 I will be here fighting for titles, fighting for the first positions of the rankings.

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After failing to make much attempt to reach a dropshot he summoned the physio and took a medical timeout at 2-1 down in the second.

Djokovic reached the final at Flushing Meadows after breezing past Kei Nishikori in the last four, beating the Japanese star 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. He was visited by a trainer at the changeover after the match's seventh game and tape was applied below the joint. "I love to play against Rafa because he's the biggest fighter in this sport and I don't like to see him suffering", said 29-year-old Del Potro who will be playing in his second Slam final.

Del Potro consoles an emotional Rafael Nadal at the US Open.

"From my experience, and I can only talk about myself, this has been definitely the toughest US Open in the last ten years that I have played in in terms of conditions", said the 13-time major victor.

Nadal tried to play through the pain but when Del Potro blasted a forehand victor to go ahead 7-6 (3) 6-2 the Spaniard removed his headband and said he could not continue.

One of the greatest players of all time, the one chink in the Spaniard's armour has always been his knees with injuries plaguing him throughout his career. "But at some point you have to take a decision", Nadal told reporters. "I had my biggest memories on the tennis court playing on this court ... but I was a kid".

Nadal, who reached the last four in NY on the back of brilliant shot-making and incredible movement, looked out of sorts early against Del Potro and struggled to cover the court with his usual tenacity.

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