Tuesday 20 March 2018 / 03:16 AM


Rafael Nadal has spoilt Juan Martin del Potro’s US Open fairy-tale to storm into his fourth final at Flushing Meadows.

Nadal overcame a slow start to reel off nine straight games and defeat del Potro 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 in a stunning performance.

The Spaniard struck 45 winners and converted six break points in the two hour and thirty minute victory.

“It has been an amazing season after a couple of years with some troubles, injuries, tough moments,” Nadal said.

“This year, since the beginning, has been an emotional year. It means everything for me to be back here in front of this crowd and playing for the US Open title.”

Both Nadal and del Potro have endured their fair share of injuries, with Nadal forced to miss the US Open in 2012 and 2014 through wrist and knee injuries.

Del Potro is also in the middle of an incredible resurgence after being on the brink of retirement following a succession of wrist surgeries.

He missed the grand slam two years in a row from 2014 and 2015 before returning to reach the quarterfinals last year.

But the physical and emotional toll of overcoming Federer two days ago ultimately caught up to the Argentine, as he ran out of steam against a relentless Nadal.

The Spaniard will now face maiden grand slam finalist Kevin Anderson for the championship on Monday morning.

Anderson silenced the challenge of Pablo Carreno Busta, in a similar score line to the Nadal encounter. After losing the first set, the big serving South African fought back for the 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win.

He took full advantage of the depleted men’s draw, with five out of the top eleven ranked players missing in action, to become the lowest ranked US Open finalist since 1973.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Anderson said, after celebrating his semi-final win by climbing into his guest box in the stands.

“I don’t know if the team hug is appropriate but it felt like the right thing to do.”

Nadal holds the one-sided 4-0 win-loss advantage against Anderson and moreover he has the grand slam experience, especially as this is his third major final just this season alone.

Prior to this week Anderson had never advanced beyond the quarterfinal stage of a major.

But Nadal isn’t underestimating his opponent, he knows all too well from their junior playing days.

“He’s a huge player with an unbelievable serve,” Nadal said.

“He plays unbelievable on this surface. He’s able to play his best tennis in his career right now.

“It’s going to be a tough one. I need to be playing at my best. I need to play at full energy and full motivation if I’m going to have my chances.”

If Nadal does beat the 32nd ranked Anderson in the decider, he’ll become the first man to win a major tournament without facing a player inside the world’s top 25 along the way.

In fact Nadal did not face a seeded opponent until this meeting with del Potro. He avoided Richard Gasquet, Fabio Fognini, Tomas Berdych, David Goffin, Gael Monfils, Pablo Cuevas and Grigor Dimitrov because they were all stunned in the early stages of the tournament.

Del Potro also prevented the historic Nadal and Federer semi-final showdown by upsetting second ranked Federer in the quarterfinals.

Nadal and Anderson are scheduled to clash in the final on Monday at 6:00am AEST.

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Alyssia Varricchio

Alyssia Varricchio is a sports reporter, journalist and producer based in Melbourne.

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