US Open | Roger Federer eliminated by Juan Martin del Potro; Rafael Nadal advances to the semi-final

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US Open | Roger Federer eliminated by Juan Martin del Potro; Rafael Nadal advances to the semi-final

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SportsCafe Desk


The much-prophesied semi-final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will not see the light of day as the Swiss ace went down fighting against Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-final. Top seed Nadal, however, cruised into the semis with a three-set win against Russian teenager Andrey Rublev.

Rafael Nadal had earlier confessed that he wouldn’t want to face a tough opponent like Roger Federer in the semis and he got his wish fulfilled as his nemesis was finally shown the door in the quarter final. World Number 28, Juan Martin del Potro, won the grueling game 5-7, 6-3-. 6-7. 4-6 that lasted for three hours.

The Argentine started the game on the front foot getting 84% of his first serves and winning all his service games (6/6), as Federer succumbed to 11 unforced errors. The Swiss had to come back stronger and so he did in the second set, winning all his service games (5/5) and showing improvement in return points.

After coming back from 2-0 down in the last round, Federer knew it was far from over as del Potro took it to the tie-break. Federer lost the lead twice before a lost serve eventually gave the Argentine the lead, and he never lost his momentum since then and dominated the last set like the very first one.

“I think I played my best match of the tournament and I did everything well. I served really good. I hit my forehand as hard as I can and I think we played a great match and I deserved to win in the end,” del Potro said after the match.

In another game, it was the first time since a 19-year-old Pete Sampras defeated 31-year-old John McEnroe in the 1990 US Open semi-finals that the tournament was witnessing a game between a 30-plus ace and a teenager at an advanced round. The build-up was filled with expectations of a thrilling contest between youth and experience but it ended in just one hour and 37 minutes as the World Number 1 paid no heed to the noise cruising into the semis with an easy 6-1 6-2 6-2 win, hardly giving any breathing space to the 19-year-old Russian.

Rublev was the youngest man to reach the last eight of US Open since Andy Roddick in 2001 and was understandably under huge pressure on his Arthur Ashe Stadium debut. It was one of those days when Nadal's return couldn’t go wrong as he won 71% on the Rublev second serve, frustrating the Russian into making seven double faults.

While the first set was wrapped up in 23 minutes after Nadal’s brilliant four games dominance, the second set ended only within 58 minutes, with Rublev posing little challenge. Although Rublev battled back with determination in the final set to hold on to six break points when he was 3-1 down, he faltered with yet another double fault on the break, throwing his racquet in frustration.

Praising his opponent, Nadal said, "It happened to me when I was 18, 17 and playing on the tour against players I admired from the TV. It's great to have a new generation coming. He is one of the players that has a great future and I wish him all the very best."

With Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, and Coco Vandeweghe already in the semis of the women’s singles event, Madison Keys was the only missing piece of the puzzle that would bring together the highly anticipated all-American semi-final. The last time such a thing had happened was back in 1985, when Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Kathy Rinaldi and Zina Garrison made the rare club in Wimbledon.     

The 15th seed won comfortably 6-3, 6-3 to overcome a dangerous Kanepi that took just 69 minutes without dropping any serve, breaking once in the first set and twice in the second. Keys was in the driving seat right from the start as she got eight aces right among 23 winners.

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