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Rafael Nadal reveals anguish after retiring in U.S. Open semi-finals: 'It was very difficult for me to say goodbye'

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 8 Sep 2018
  • Rafael Nadal was forced to retire due to knee tendinitis in his U.S. Open semi-final with Juan Martin del Potro
  • Nadal was trailing 6-7(3) 2-6 when he could no longer continue
Rafael Nadal (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal has opened up about the knee injury that forced him to retire against Juan Martin del Potro in the U.S. Open semi-finals on Saturday.

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Having built a career on his relentless ability to compete and fight, Nadal simply couldn’t soldier on for any longer as he trailed del Potro 6-7(3) 2-6 in their highly-anticipated semi-final showdown. Nadal, who survived an energy-sapping five-set epic against Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals and a pair of four-setters in his previous two rounds, began to suffer from knee tendinitis in the second set and although he attempted to complete the match, the defending champion wasn’t any match for del Potro on one leg.

Rafael Nadal (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
"I hate to retire, but to stay one more set out there playing like this was too much for me," Nadal told the assembled media following the match. "I had some issues during the tournament. Today at 2-all in the first I felt it again. I said to my box immediately that I felt something in the knee. After that, I was just trying to see if it could improve during the match. But no, it was not the day.
"I waited as much as I can. You could imagine it was very difficult for me to say goodbye before the match finish. But at some point you have to make a decision. It was so difficult for me to keep playing that way, having so much pain. It was not a tennis match at the end. It was just one player playing, the other one staying on the other side."

It marks the second Grand Slam this season where Nadal has retired, with the Spaniard also pulling the pin in his Australian Open quarter-final with Marin Cilic in the fifth set. Overall, Nadal has only retired three times in 283 Grand Slam matches (54 tournaments).

The 32-year-old was attempting to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time outside of Roland Garros this fortnight in New York.

Despite the overwhelming feeling of disappointment, Nadal was full of praise for del Potro as the Argentine advanced into his first major final since winning the 2009 U.S. Open.

"He's a player that went through a lot of issues during his career, like me too. I know how tough it is. I know how much frustration can be when you can't do the thing that you want to do. He knows that very well.
"I'm happy for him that he's able to be back at his top level. I wish him all the best. For him, it will be huge if he's able to win a Grand Slam again."

It’s not yet known how long Nadal will be sidelined for. The World No. 1 is next scheduled to play the ATP 500 China Open in Beijing, starting on October 1.


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Rafael Nadal reveals anguish after retiring in U.S. Open semi-finals: 'It was very difficult for me to say goodbye'

Rafael Nadal has opened up about the knee injury that forced him to retire against Juan Martin del Potro in the U.S. Open semi-finals on Saturday.

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