Del Potro through to final as injured Nadal retires

Rafael Nadal will face Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open semi-final

But he had a knee issue earlier in the tournament, when he had it taped during his victory against Karen Khachanov in the third round.

In Wednesday's other quarter-final, Marin Cilic was ousted in five sets by Kei Nishikori, despite winning more points in the match and creating four more break point chances - such are the fine margins often required to win tennis matches.

"I think it was two-all in the first, 15-love, something like this in the first set, that I felt (something)", said Nadal.

Over and out: Rafael Nadal, of Spain, waves to fans after retiring from the match.

"That was not a tennis match at the end".

Del Potro won the first semi-final earlier in the day after defending champion Rafa Nadal retired with a knee injury in the second set. "I was in too much pain", he said.

Rafael Nadal gave and gave at this U.S. Open, spending 17 hours and 55 minutes pounding his 32-year-old knees on hard court and supplying two marathon blocks of entertainment before his body finally gave out.

He has won the last 13 meetings, such a run of dominance that the Japan native didn't recall that he beat Djokovic in Flushing Meadows in the 2014 semifinals, adding that maybe he should rewatch the match.

The reigning French Open champion ends his Grand Slam season having made it at least to the quarterfinals in all four majors.

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I didn't take any pleasure in watching Nadal go through the motions in that second set - especially in case he did more damage.

Djokovic, who has made seven previous finals in NY but won only two, will now face Del Potro in Sunday's final.

It took him two hours and 23 minutes - only 22 minutes longer than Nadal kept Del Potro interested, before an emotional withdrawal in the first semi-final.

Reaching a second consecutive Grand Slam final suggests the 13-times major champion is almost back to his best, though he will need to be even more clinical against Del Potro, who has only dropped one set in six matches in NY.

In the sixth game of the second set, he argued with umpire James Keothavong over a line call, telling the British official: "It's all right, i'm going to retire, but you were not right on this one".

Djokovic, who was forced to skip last year's tournament due to an elbow injury and returned to the tour this year after surgery, said he was thrilled to be back on the big stage.

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.

He needed his right knee strapped after the seventh game before gallantly fighting off two set points in the 10th game, breaking Del Potro who was serving for the set. "I had my biggest memories on the tennis court playing on this court ... but I was a kid".

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