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Nadal vs del Potro US Open SF Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal and del Potro meet in the US Open semis for the second straight year

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 7 Sep 2018
  • Rafael Nadal vs Juan Martin del Potro is live from New York on Friday, 7 September from 4:00pm local time/ 9:00pm BST
  • Nadal leads 11-5 on head-to-head
Rafael Nadal. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro go to head-to-head in the semi-finals of the US Open for the second straight year, as they battle for a spot in Sunday's final.

Nadal came from a set down to beat del Potro at Flushing Meadows last season before going on to defeat Kevin Anderson in the final to claim his third US Open title. It's actually the third time Nadal and del Potro will be meeting in a US Open semi-final, as the Argentine famously clobbered the Spaniard 6-2 6-2 6-2 in the last four in 2009. Both men have become very acquainted with each other in Grand Slams over the last year, as they also met at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, with Nadal winning both matches, including a five-set epic at the All England Club. 

Given how well Nadal and del Potro have played, and the nature of their respective US Open draws, this blockbuster semi-final was always on the cards, and both players have delivered. Will Nadal continue his recent mastery of del Potro, or will the forceful Argentine find a way past the great Spaniard? 

Nadal is looking to reach the US Open final for the fifth time in his career, having won the title in 2010, 2013 and 2017, while he lost the 2011 final to Novak Djokovic. 

He has had to work very hard for his spot in the semi-finals, particularly in the last few rounds against Karen Khachanov and Dominic Thiem, both of whom pushed Nadal over the four-hour mark.

The defending champion had made a serene start to the tournament, earning his first win after David Ferrer retired from their first round meeting. Nadal then took out Vasek Pospisil in straight sets, but he faced his first real challenge against Khachanov in the third round. The hard-hitting Russian gave as good as he got, but he fell just short in the end, losing 5-7 7-5 7-6 7-6. Nadal again required four sets to get past Nikoloz Basilashvili in the fourth round, before joining forces with Dominic Thiem to serve up arguably the match of the tournament so far in the quarter finals. 

In the first meeting between the pair away from clay, Thiem settled quicker, ripping forehand and backhand winners past a startled Nadal, as he raced through the first set to love. Nadal isn't one to panic in those situations, and slowly but surely, the world number one found his way back into the match, and began to impose his game and his will on Thiem. Despite failing to serve out the second set, Nadal broke in the next game to even the match, reducing it to a best of three-sets duel. 

Thiem wasn't without his chances- he led 5-3 in the third set, but Nadal reeled off four games in a row to take the set and move ahead for the first time in the match. To his great credit though, Thiem stayed strong and refused to go away. The Austrian took the fourth set on a tie break, setting up a grand stand final set. The deciding set fittingly came down to a breaker as well, and after almost five hours of brutal hitting, spectacular winners, and incredible stamina at both ends, it was Nadal who emerged with the win, sealing an epic 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 7-6 victory when Thiem's overhead on match point missed the court. 

Nadal is looking to win his 18th Grand Slam title, and his second of the season, following his success at Roland Garros during another superb clay-court season. He also won customary titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, as well as Montreal to take his tally for the season to five. 

Nadal has played at a very high level at the Grand Slams this year. For the first time since 2011, he has made the quarter finals in each of the four majors. He has also reached three semi-finals in a single season for the first time in seven years. The only major in which he didn't reach the last four was in Australia, when he suffered a thigh injury in the fifth set of his quarter final with Marin Cilic. 

The sizeable figure of Juan Martin del Potro is out to deny the Spaniard a second major final of the season. 

Del Potro is an ominous presence in any draw, but the Argentine has looked particularly sharp at Flushing Meadows this year, dropping only one set on his way to the semi-finals. He came in under an injury cloud, as a wrist complaint had forced his withdrawal from Montreal, but he hasn't looked bothered by the problem so far in New York. 

Juan Martin del Potro. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
After seeing off Donald Young, Denis Kudla, Fernando Verdasco and Borna Coric in straights sets, del Potro lost his first set of the tournament in his quarter final against John Isner, but he bounced back to win in four. Predictably, it was a serve-dominated contest, with Isner firing down 26 aces and del Potro, 14, but the Argentine’s advantage off the ground proved decisive as he smacked 49 winners and just 14 unforced errors. Isner on the other hand hit 67 winners, but he committed 52 unforced errors. Del Potro saved all three break points he faced, while he asked more questions off the Isner serve, converting three of 11 break opportunities.

Del Potro is seeking his first Grand Slam final since his 2009 US Open triumph. He has spent a heavy chunk of the time between then and now battling with wrist injuries and surgeries, but thankfully, he has been relatively healthy over the past year, and has subsequently moved up to a career-high No. 3 in the world. He has won two titles this season- in Acapulco and Indian Wells, made finals in Auckland and Los Cabos, while he reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros and Miami. 

The Argentine has reached at least the quarter finals in three of the year's four majors, with the exception being a third-round loss to Tomas Berdych at the Australian Open.

Can he take down Nadal, and return to a Grand Slam final for the first time in nine years?

Nadal owns an 11-5 record over Del Potro, and has won their last three matches- all of which have been Grand Slam matches. They are tied at 5-5 on hard courts. 

There are no secrets between the two, del Potro will go hard with serve and forehand, while Nadal will consistently and aggressively attack del Potro's weaker backhand with his topspin forehand. I think del Potro is playing well enough to beat Nadal, but Nadal is such an indefatigable being who more often than not, finds a way to win.

Rafael Nadal vs Juan Martin del Potro is live from New York on Friday, 7 September from 4:00pm local time/ 9:00pm BST

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify 

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Nadal vs del Potro US Open SF Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal and del Potro meet in the US Open semis for the second straight year

Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro meet in the semi-finals of the US Open for the second straight year. Can del Potro avenge last year's loss to Nadal? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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