Juan Martin del Potro reached his first grand slam final as he knocked out third seed Rafael Nadal in their US Open semi-final yesterday.
The sixth seed from Argentina blew Spain's Nadal away at Arthur Ashe Stadium, taking two hours and 20 minutes to win 6-2 6-2 6-2.
“It's very difficult for me to speak at this moment,” Del Potro said immediately following the victory. “I'm very, very happy, this is my favourite tournament and I can't believe this moment. I'm very close now to my dream to win this tournament. I hope to do it but I'm so happy to be here in this moment. If I win or lose, I think this is the best moment of my life.”
Nadal had run out of steam by the time he got to the US Open semi-finals 12 months ago, losing to Andy Murray in match stretched out over two days due to heavy rain and it appeared to be the case again as he was swept aside by Del Potro, just a month into his comeback from a bout of tendinitis following the French Open.
He had been unable to defend his title at Wimbledon and in his third tournament since returning following almost nine weeks out, he found no answer to an all-round display of tennis from the 6ft 6ins 20-year-old, also hampered by a stomach muscle issue that flared last month and was aggravated earlier this week.
Nadal, the Australian Open champion, pointed to his fitness problems but also credited Del Potro.
“Halfway through the season having the problems with the knees and after that it's been difficult,” Nadal said. “But I'm very happy with the way I've come back, reaching the quarter-finals (in Montreal), semi-finals (in Cincinnati) and semi-finals (US Open). Here and in Cincinnati it was important because I had the right abdominal (injury) and that was a problem for me with the serve.
“But (Del Potro) has served very well and he's played unbelievable.”