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Novak Djokovic beats Kei Nishikori to set up a US Open final against Juan Martin del Potro after Rafael Nadal retires: Men's semifinals as they happened

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 8 Sep 2018

Novak Djokovic will face Juan Martin del Potro in the final of the 2018 US Open after Nadal retired trailing del Potro 6-7(3), 2-6 and Djokovic beat Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4, 6-2: Men's semifinals as they happened.


*denotes next player to serve

Key events
23:55 07 Sep

Stream Djokovic vs Nishikori live from New York

02:33 08 Sep

What a pair of finals we have to look forward to

02:28 08 Sep

'I don't see any limits'

02:21 08 Sep

Game, set & match Novak Djokovic, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2

02:17 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 6-4, 5-2 Nishikori - Djokovic secures a double break

02:13 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 6-4, 4-2 Nishikori*

02:06 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 6-4, 3-2 Nishikori

02:01 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 6-4, 3-1 Nishikori*

01:57 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 6-4, 2-1 Nishikori - Djokovic breaks in the third set

01:53 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 6-4, 1-1 Nishikori*

01:51 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 6-4, 0-1 Nishikori

01:39 08 Sep

SET Djokovic leads 6-3, 6-4

01:35 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 5-4 Nishikori

01:32 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 5-3 Nishikori*

01:26 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 4-3 Nishikori

01:22 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 4-2 Nishikori*

01:15 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 3-2 Nishikori - Djokovic breaks on 9th break point

01:12 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 2-2 Nishikori*

01:08 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 1-2 Nishikori

00:58 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 1-1 Nishikori* - Djokovic saves two break points

00:45 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 0-1 Nishikori - Nishikori saves multiple break points

00:43 08 Sep

Stats from the first set

00:39 08 Sep

SET Djokovic leads 6-3

00:36 08 Sep

Djokovic* 5-3 Nishikori

00:31 08 Sep

Djokovic 5-2 Nishikori*

00:25 08 Sep

Djokovic* 4-2 Nishikori

00:21 08 Sep

Djokovic 4-1 Nishikori*

00:19 08 Sep

Djokovic* 3-1 Nishikori

00:14 08 Sep

Djokovic 3-0 Nishikori*

00:06 08 Sep

Djokovic 2-0 Nishikori* - Djokovic breaks

00:02 08 Sep

Djokovic 1-0 Nishikori*

23:57 07 Sep

The head-to-head

23:54 07 Sep

Djokovic & Nishikori taking the court!

23:48 07 Sep

Djokovic vs Nishikori coming up fast

23:40 07 Sep

Nadal in press: 'I hate to retire.'

23:26 07 Sep

A message to the Tandil twelve

23:24 07 Sep

'I don't want to see him suffering'

23:22 07 Sep

Del Potro is into the US Open final

23:21 07 Sep

RAFA RETIRES

23:16 07 Sep

SET Del Potro leads 7-6(3), 6-2

23:12 07 Sep

Nadal* 6-7(3), 2-5 del Potro

23:03 07 Sep

Nadal 6-7(3), 2-4 del Potro* - Nadal saves break points

22:59 07 Sep

Nadal 6-7(3), 1-4 del Potro - Delpo consolidates the break

22:54 07 Sep

Nadal 6-7(3), 1-3 del Potro* - del Potro breaks

22:50 07 Sep

Medical time-out for Nadal

22:47 07 Sep

Nadal* 1-2 del Potro

22:41 07 Sep

Nadal 1-1 del Potro* - Nadal saves two break points

22:36 07 Sep

Nadal* 6-7(3), 0-1 del Potro - Delpo holds to open set 2

22:31 07 Sep

Set 1 stats

22:21 07 Sep

SET Del Potro leads 7-6(3)

22:16 07 Sep

Nadal 6-6 del Potro - the first set goes to a tie-break

22:12 07 Sep

Rafa on the rampage

22:12 07 Sep

Nadal 6-5 del Potro*

22:04 07 Sep

Nadal* 5-5 del Potro - Nadal breaks back as del Potro serves for the set

21:59 07 Sep

Nadal 4-5 del Potro* - del Potro breaks to 15!

21:55 07 Sep

Nadal* 4-4 del Potro

21:52 07 Sep

Trainer on for Nadal

21:50 07 Sep

Nadal 4-3 del Potro*

21:45 07 Sep

Nadal* 3-3 del Potro

21:41 07 Sep

Nadal 3-2 del Potro*

21:35 07 Sep

Nadal* 2-2 del Potro

21:32 07 Sep

Nadal 2-1 del Potro* - first hold of serve of the match

21:26 07 Sep

Nadal* 1-1 del Potro - Nadal breaks back

21:19 07 Sep

Nadal vs del Potro* 0-1 - del Potro breaks to open

21:16 07 Sep

Stream Nadal vs del Potro live from New York

21:12 07 Sep

Coin toss

21:10 07 Sep

Players taking the court!

21:00 07 Sep

Time for the match to start!

20:52 07 Sep

'I missed more Grand Slams than other players'

20:45 07 Sep

Deja vu all over again

20:42 07 Sep

Pre-match reading

20:36 07 Sep

Welcome to the men's semifinals live blog

Live blog

23:55 07 Sep

Stream Djokovic vs Nishikori live from New York


Here's how you can watch Djokovic vs Nishikori in the semifinals of the 2018 US Open live. 


1. Visit the bet365 website

2. Sign into your account or register for a new one

3. Select Live Streaming

4. Select 'Tennis’ from the ‘All Sports’ dropdown menu

5. Click on Djokovic vs Nishikori and enjoy the match!
02:33 08 Sep

What a pair of finals we have to look forward to

Coming up tomorrow from 4pm local/9pm BST: Six-time champion Serena Williams goes for her 24th Grand Slam title as she takes on Naomi Osaka, the emerging star. 

And on Sunday from 4pm local/9pm BST: Novak Djokovic out to ratify his return to the winner's circle and end the feel-good story of Juan Martin del Potro, trying to wrest something from the ravages of time and injury. 

We'll be here for ALL of it. And I can't wait. See you tomorrow!
02:28 08 Sep

'I don't see any limits'

'It felt great, I don't know how it looked. but it felt great,' Djokovic says. 

Happy with his 'intensity and focus' from the beginning, praises Nishikori as 'one of the greatest movers on the tour'. 

Told he's now won nine straight Grand Slam semifinals, Djokovic says, 'Every player wants to perform his best at the Grand Slams. I've been fortunate over the past decade of my professional career to really play well on the big stage ... Every time I come back to Arthur Ashe Stadium, I relive these memories and they give me strength.'

'I'm trying to be the best I can be, I'm working hard every day, as hard as anybody else, and I'm trying to reach certain heights that I visualize ... I don't see any limits, I don't see an end around the corner.'

On del Potro:

'We've never faced each other in a Grand Slam finals, so that's going to be something new for both of us ... I have tremendous respect for him as a person and a player, he's a great guy, he works very hard, he's very respected around the locker room, he's suffered a lot with his injuries. He's a big match player ... I'm sure it's going to be a thrilling match.'
02:21 08 Sep

Game, set & match Novak Djokovic, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2

Up 0-15, Nishikori charges into net but puts the backhand volley into the net for 15-15. 

Djokovic runs him from side to side and hits out for a forehand winner for 30-15, but Nishikori, going for broke, manages to level at 30-30 - only for Djokovic, again, to just effortlessly extend on the forehand, corner to corner to get the error and match point. 

That eighth US Open final will wait just a bit longer, though, as Nishikori lands a good return to pin him back to deuce. But another great serve wide brings up a second match point - and Djokovic converts with a classic backhand winner down the line off an excellent shot from Nishikori! 

That sums up the match - Nishikori plays brilliantly and Djokovic just has that little bit more. 

An almost perfect performance from the Serb, so totally in command of his game and the match. 
02:17 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 6-4, 5-2 Nishikori - Djokovic secures a double break

Nishikori is going for broke on just about everything, having tried all his other game plans. It's not working terribly well, as he misses wildly on a backhand for 15-15.

Djokovic just stays solid down the other end, reading Nishikori's serve like a short book with lots of illustrations, and earns two points for a double break. Nishikori saves the first with an ace, just his second of the match - but his backhand pushes long and Djokovic will serve for the match!
02:13 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 6-4, 4-2 Nishikori*

Nishikori gets to 30-15, but gets a backhand return all wrong and Djokovic has three game points - and can afford to squander the first with a backhand that shades wide, although he's reluctant to let it go, challenging (correctly).

So the point at 40-15 will be replayed - and it becomes a service winner. 'YEAH!' Djokovic yells, or words to that effect.
02:06 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 6-4, 3-2 Nishikori

Nishikori is definitely starting to look a bit wilted and ragged here. 

He fights his way back from 0-30 to game point, but nets a short backhand for deuce - and then a second game point goes begging as Nishikori frames an off-balance forehand wide and long. 

Break point for Djokovic, who gives his box a tongue-lashing as Nishikori saves it. Jelena Ristic laughs it off - and Nishikori has clawed his way out of trouble.
02:01 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 6-4, 3-1 Nishikori*

This seems like a good time to start looking up Djokovic's head-to-head against del Potro. 

You won't be surprised to learn that he leads it - 14-4 overall, and has won both their US Open meetings (2007 and 2012) as well as all three matches they played in 2017. 

Del Potro's last win over Djokovic came, of course, at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Both men are playing a lot better now than they were then. 

Djokovic swiftly holds to love as a discombobulated Nishikori over-presses. And the Serb still looks as fresh as a daisy.
01:57 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 6-4, 2-1 Nishikori - Djokovic breaks in the third set

The last two points in that game told you everything you needed to know about how much those first two sets have hollowed out Nishikori. 

And the first two points as Nishikori serves for the first time in this set tell you an awful lot, too, as Djokovic maintains his fluid aggression and Nishikori pulls the trigger too early twice in succession. 

Djokovic over-presses on a second serve return for 15-30 - and sets up two break points as Nishikori's backhand misfires - and breaks. 
01:53 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 6-4, 1-1 Nishikori*

Djokovic finds himself one set away from an eighth US Open final - but with del Potro awaiting him, he doesn't want to go on any walkabouts. 

The break after set 2, and the one-sided nature of the scoreline if not the match, has created a little lull here and Djokovic seems to be feeling it, struggling to find first serves and making two backhand errors for 30-30. Can Nishikori capitalize?

The Japanese player doesn't help his cause by missing a second-serve forehand return into the net off an admittedly extremely sprightly second serve - and a totally wild backhand sees Djokovic hold. 
01:51 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 6-4, 0-1 Nishikori

Players return to court after an extended break.

Nishikori, who is down two sets to love at this point almost for reasons completely unrelated to his own performance, would love to get off to a good start in this third set - and that's just what he does as he holds to love, something that's been rare indeed for him in this match. 
01:39 08 Sep

SET Djokovic leads 6-3, 6-4

Djokovic finds just his third ace of the match for 15-0, and Nishikori fires the cross-court forehand wide for 30-0 in a classic display of the kind of overpressing he's been forced into by Djokovic's impenetrability today.

Nishikori gets the tiniest foothold for 30-15, but Djokovic produces an absolutely brilliant second serve, high and swerving to the Nishikori backhand. The Japanese player does well just to handle it into the court but he's on the back foot thenceforth and now it's two set points for Djokovic ... And Djokovic wraps up that two-sets lead as Nishikori's backhand drives wide. 

Djokovic thrusts his arms into the air for the crowd's applause, and they should be applauding, because the Serb's level so far has been insane.
01:35 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 5-4 Nishikori

Serving to stay in the second set, Nishikori gets off to a poor, 0-15 start when he misses a forehand off the back foot thanks to Djokovic's deep return - and the same gets a backhand into the net for 15-30, before he levels for 30-30, cleaning up a rare short ball with a backhand winner down the line.

He dictates with his backhand for game point and converts - due diligence done, but can he find a way into Djokovic's service game here? 
01:32 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 5-3 Nishikori*

The match clock ticks over to 90 minutes and it's very much starting to look like it won't be Kei Nishikori's day - and not because of the effort he's put in, either. 

He lands an absolutely superb return but Djokovic simply redirects it into the open court for 40-0, although he does magnaminously make an unforced error for 40-15 before wrapping up the game with a sharp backhand volley. 
01:26 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 4-3 Nishikori

I think this last game might have broken Nishikori's heart, if not his spirit. 

He's quickly down 0-15, but gets a little let-off as Djokovic's backhand down the line goes wide to the accompaniment of a faint, prolonged wail from the Serb (only after 10+ strokes of furious baseline hitting, though). 

Two great serves for 40-15, but Nishikori once again finds himself in trouble after being forced to land a second serve and misses a forehand for 40-30. Djokovic nets a backhand, though, and Nishikori stays just about in touch. 
01:22 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 4-2 Nishikori*

The first 35 minutes or so of this second set - and yes, that's how long those five games took - have been tennis of the absolute highest quality from both men, but here Djokovic is, up a set and a break. 



Nishikori won't slacken, though, as he attacks the net when Djokovic slices the ball, and wins a ping-pong point for 0-15 despite Djokovic's best defense. 

Another pin-point precise serve from Djokovic for 15-15, though, and that really has been the difference between these two. Another service winner and a swerving forehand for 40-15, and a secure (enough) overhead off a ball that looked like it might be going out to hold. 
01:15 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 3-2 Nishikori - Djokovic breaks on 9th break point

A forehand down the line gets Djokovic on top for 0-30, and Nishikori hasn't been able to find a way to get inside the baseline in this game so far. 

Djokovic whistles down a superb return that gets a completely flummoxed Nishikori reflex return in the net, and the Japanese player gives some serious thought to throwing his racquet at 0-40 - but instead fends off the first break point in an absolutely scintillating exchange in which Nishikori absorbs and throws back everything with interest until Djokovic throws in a drop shot that Nishikori chases down and flicks into the open court. 

The second break point is swiftly erased with a backhand winner down the line on the second shot - and the third is saved too as Nishikori finds a way into net, plays an absolutely brilliant forehand volley and forces the error from Djokovic. 

Djokovic now 0 for 8 on break points - but he will have a ninth opportunity as he keeps the pressure on Nishikori. 

And finally Djokovic breaks through - Nishikori simply could not find a way to get inside the baseline and is forced to run behind it, and eventually Djokovic wears him down. 
01:12 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 2-2 Nishikori*

So Nishikori has found a way - which is currently working, although I'm not sure it's necessarily a viable long-term strategy - to be much more proactive on his serve. What can he do on return? 

Djokovic goes up 30-0 as he wrongfoots Nishikori mid-rally, then dances round a short ball for a forehand winner into the corner - and fires a cross-court forehand winner for a dampening hold to love. 
01:08 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 1-2 Nishikori

Nishikori loses a point at the net for the first time in the match as he loses a high ball in the lights for 15-15, but the effort the last couple of games have taken out of him physically might be revealed by the fact that he really didn't get up to that one.

Djokovic smartly tests him the same way in the next point as Nishikori attacks the net once again, but this time the Japanese player makes no mistake, leaping for an explosive smash down the middle.

And yet another pin-point overhead for Nishikori for 40-15. He's clearly decided - realized - that at the moment he's not going to win the battle for the baseline and is going to attack the net whenever possible. 

And he does so again beautifully to hold, darting in for a high forehand volley.
00:58 08 Sep

Djokovic 6-3, 1-1 Nishikori* - Djokovic saves two break points

So, five break points saved by Nishikori in a 14-minute game. Will coming through that one without relinquishing the break put some heart into him (not that I'm suggesting he lacks it) or will the effort it cost him just to hold come back to bite him later in the set?

The two split points to open Djokovic's service game, but Djokovic edges ahead as Nishikori misses down the line behind a very flat, hard-struck forehand from the Serb - then opens the door a crack with a double fault.

Djokovic nevertheless edges to game point, but Nishikori levels with a drop shot to force an error from the Serb. Deuce - and Djokovic serves a rather wild double fault! 

The Serb's racquet slips out of his hand, or is thrown to the court - it's not clear - but he gestures furiously to his box, then nods sarcastically when the crowd react to a let and a missed first serve like it's a double fault. 

It isn't - and it isn't a break either as Nishikori misses a backhand on the run off Djokovic's own deep backhand. Djokovic yells furiously to his box again - he was so calm, composed and collected two minutes ago! What happened?

Nishikori sets up another break point, though, with a forehand down the line to set up an overhead - but he misses a loose forehand and the game is into its eighth minute and third deuce. 25 minutes gone in this set and we're still in the second game. 

Djokovic bangs down two service winners to secure an extremely important hold. Nishikori may deeply rue that missed forehand on the second break point. He should at least have made Djokovic play.
00:45 08 Sep

Djokovic* 6-3, 0-1 Nishikori - Nishikori saves multiple break points

Djokovic's bravura performance continues as he goes up 0-30 with more superb returning and rallying. 

Nishikori injects some pace for a clean forehand winner that lifts him out of his shoes - or at least, his shoes off the court - for 15-30, and finds a tremendous defensive sliced backhand that floats short over the net, catching Djokovic totally off guard for 30-30. 

Djokovic ripostes with a laser-like backhand down the line to end a 16-shot rally for the first break point of the set, and this is just flawless hitting from both men right now. 

Nishikori, in some desperation, attacks the net to save it for deuce, and produces a backhand flick in defense that gets him game point - but he's having to dig very, very deep and raise his level very, very high out here just to give himself a chance to hold his serve. 

Djokovic erases the game point with a big second-serve forehand return, and then maneouvres Nishikori relentlessly into a forehand error for break point again. 

Nishikori manages to save it with a good first serve, his fastest of the night, to get back to deuce once more as the game heads towards its tenth minute - but he can't make the first serve at deuce and goes big on his second serve, and the risk doesn't pay off: It's a double fault and a break point. 

Djokovic with a rare returning error for deuce #4 as the game heads into its eleventh minute - but Nishikori can't capitalize on the lifeline thrown to him, snatching at a short (ish - nothing's SHORT) forehand for a fourth break point. 

That is spectacularly saved by Nishikori, though, who chases down a short return for a sharp angled drop shot then reads Djokovic's response to guide the ball down the line. 

He goes completely the wrong way at net on the next point, but gets away with it as Djokovic's lob goes long for game point - only to miss a forehand off the back foot as Djokovic land a deep return. Sixth deuce, heading into the 13th minute.

Game point Nishikori as Djokovic attempts to go around the net post and only succeeds in bouncing the ball off the net post - and Nishikori has held as Djokovic nets another backhand! 
00:43 08 Sep

Stats from the first set

Thanks, Amazon Prime! (Pay your taxes.)

The stats to pay attention to are how many points each are winning on their second serve - 71% for Djokovic, 38% for Nishikori - and returns in play off the first serve, 70% for Djokovic, 29% for Nishikori.

Superb tactical serving from Djokovic, because Nishikori is by no means a mediocre returner.
00:39 08 Sep

SET Djokovic leads 6-3

Nishikori doesn't seem to be having any problems moving as he lunges desperately to his left to try to retrieve a Djokovic ball, going down 0-30, and Djokovic wraps up the set with some more superb, pin-point serving.
00:36 08 Sep

Djokovic* 5-3 Nishikori

Nishikori is immediately in trouble as he tries to serve to stay in the set - but claws his way back to 30-30 and then Djokovic lets him off the hook with an overhead missed into the net (the famous 'Djokosmash'). The Serb gestures unhappily at the floodlights.

Unfortunately Nishikori very much looks a gift horse in the mouth as he nets a forehand for deuce - and then something happens as Nishikori attacks the net - he seems to twist his left knee? He still wins the point, and then the game with a forehand winner, but let us pray that this is not going to be another match decided by injury.
00:31 08 Sep

Djokovic 5-2 Nishikori*

Djokovic just seems so clear about what he wants to accomplish out here and how he's going about it - unlike the rest of the fortnight when he's mainly seemed worried about trying to prevent his brain from boiling out of his ears. 

He holds to love with four very precisely targeted balls to the Nishikori forehand. 
00:25 08 Sep

Djokovic* 4-2 Nishikori

Nishikori's ability to read Djokovic's backhand down the line well enough to get there and send it cross-court with pace is a key mini-battle in this match, and he does just that nicely to lead 15-0.

The Japanese player swiftly up 40-15 - but pegged back to deuce as Djokovic produces a deep central return to devastating effect. A service winner gets him to game point, and a lengthy rally eventually gets the error from Djokovic.
00:21 08 Sep

Djokovic 4-1 Nishikori*

Djokovic with his first ace for 15-15, and Nishikori nets a backhand up the line for 30-15 - that's the kind of unforced error he simply can't afford to make today.

Nishikori gets to look at a second serve and attacks - but he attacks to Djokovic's backhand, and the Wimbledon champion finds a stroke down the line that's too much for even Nishikori's defense. 40-15.

Nishikori tries to attack the forehand on his next second-serve return, but pushes the forehand wide the other way. Understandable. But still not good enough.
00:19 08 Sep

Djokovic* 3-1 Nishikori

Nishikori absolutely must get on the board here to avoid getting steamrolled - and he produces an absolutely fantastic backhand lunge volley winner for 30-15, although it's a bit worrying that it had to be that miraculously good to poke a hole in Djokovic's defense.

A service winner and a netted backhand from the Serb see Nishikori on the board. 
00:14 08 Sep

Djokovic 3-0 Nishikori*

Nishikori produces a delightful cross-court angled backhand drop shot for 15-30, but Djokovic produces a good serve for 30-30, and frankly the Serb looks a new and rejuvenated man in these cooler temperatures.

And he wraps up a 3-0 lead in 13 minutes.
00:06 08 Sep

Djokovic 2-0 Nishikori* - Djokovic breaks

Nishikori is immediately under pressure on his serve - a forehand missed for 0-15, and then a long duel ends with Djokovic putting a forehand with unbelievable precision right on to the line for 0-30. 

0-40 as Nishikori pushes his backhand long - Nishikori saves the first with a 107 mph, nicely placed serve, and the second with another service winner. 

Tremendous hitting from both, mainly central down the court, in a lengthy rally and it's Nishikori who first injects pace and angle on the forehand to force the error from Djokovic. Very nicely played for deuce. But he's in trouble again as he shanks his forehand in a lengthy rally for a fourth break point ...

Nishikori is forced backwards by the depth of Djokovic's return, but finds a nice cross-court angle for a backhand winner for deuce once more. 

The Japanese player can't find a first serve, though, and his second serve is already being shredded by Djokovic for a fifth break point - another lengthy rally, and Nishikori's forehand flies. A hard-fought break for Djokovic.
00:02 08 Sep

Djokovic 1-0 Nishikori*

So, the towering figure of Juan Martin del Potro awaits in the US Open final - who will join him? 

Djokovic serving to open ... and he's off to a great start with a service winner and backing up his second serve nicely for 30-0. 

Another serve to the Nishikori forehand gets a netted return for 40-0. 

Nishikori gets his first point on the board as Djokovic misses a forehand down the line, but the Serb swiftly gets the first game under his belt with a service winner. 
23:57 07 Sep

The head-to-head

It's not pretty reading for Nishikori fans - a 14-2 advantage for Djokovic which includes victories in the past 13 matches they have played, stretching back to Nishikori's victory over Djokovic in the semifinals of the 2014 US Open.
23:54 07 Sep

Djokovic & Nishikori taking the court!

The 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori takes the court first, followed by a much more relaxed-looking Novak Djokovic, the two-time champion. 


23:48 07 Sep

Djokovic vs Nishikori coming up fast

Well, the air went out of everything quickly with that retirement from Nadal - but it's just a few minutes before Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori take the court, and hopefully this one won't be settled by a retirement.

Got some pre-match reading for you if you need a little help getting pumped - starting with our preview & predictions!


We've also broken down the match by the numbers - although the key number to know is 13, as in '13 straight wins for Novak Djokovic over Kei Nishikori'. 
23:40 07 Sep

Nadal in press: 'I hate to retire.'

Nadal confirms that he felt a pain in his knee from 2-2, 15-0 in the first set. 


23:26 07 Sep

A message to the Tandil twelve

Asked if he wants to send a message to his supporters, del Potro grins and says, 'Well, enjoy the final, because after the final you have to go home.'
23:24 07 Sep

'I don't want to see him suffering'

'Of course this is not the best way to win a match,' del Potro says.

'I love to play against Rafa because he is the biggest fighter in our sport. I don't want to see him suffering on court as he was today...

'Anyway, I think the key of the match was the first set, we both played really good tennis and it was a tough one ... I'm so happy to be in the final again.'

Asked what it means to him to be back in the final, del Potro smiles. 'It means a lot to me, I didn't expect to be back in a Grand Slam final, especially in my favourite tournament which is New York and the US Open. 

'I had my biggest memories on this court in 2009 when I beat Rafa and Roger but then I was a kid, and now I am much older. I will try to enjoy one more day.'
23:22 07 Sep

Del Potro is into the US Open final

After nine years and FOUR surgeries, Juan Martin del Potro is into the US Open final once more. 

Not at all the way he would have wanted it, but that's still pretty remarkable.
23:21 07 Sep

RAFA RETIRES

The trainer comes out, and after a brief consultation, Nadal crosses to del Potro's side of the net, explains the situation and gets a hug. 

Del Potro stands and leads the applause as Nadal leaves the court.
23:16 07 Sep

SET Del Potro leads 7-6(3), 6-2

Nadal bangs down an ace to lead 30-0 as he serves to stay in the second set of a match that he's announced he's going to retire from - but then double-faults for 30-30. 

And it's set point as Nadal pushes a backhand long.

An excellent backhand return from del Potro, but Nadal with a great half-volley and del Potro pushes the forehand pass attempt wide for deuce.

Del Potro tries for a lob but misses it by feet not inches and Nadal has a game point - but misses a forehand down the line long. The Weird Vibe continues.

A second set point as Nadal slaps a careless backhand into the net - and he wraps up a second set with a forehand winner. 
23:12 07 Sep

Nadal* 6-7(3), 2-5 del Potro

This match now officially has a Weird Vibe.

The intensity has slackened off, everyone watching is still wondering if they REALLY heard Nadal he was going to retire, and del Potro holds to love. 
23:03 07 Sep

Nadal 6-7(3), 2-4 del Potro* - Nadal saves break points

The speculation on social media is all about whether Nadal will continue the match or not. The Spaniard is sitting forward in his chair and as the camera lands on him, he shrugs and grimaces to his box. 

But he will continue for now - and all I will say is that we've seen Nadal seemingly on the verge of retirement before, and he's found a way to battle through and get the victory. He was a bit younger then though.

Anyway ... Nadal serving at 1-4 and del Potro lands a deep return which is called out. Nadal tells him to challenge, he does and it proves to be in only for Nadal to slam down an ace for 15-0. 

A backhand error long from Nadal for 15-15, but a service winner for 30-15. Del Potro needs an insurance break, or at the very least, he needs to not slacken off - and a clean forehand return winner off a second serve for 30-30 will do nicely.

Break point comes with a slight outburst from Nadal - it's to do with a late call, and he gives umpire Keothavong a piece of his mind, but saves it for deuce with a big serve, and now has game point as del Potro misses a forehand off the back foot. 

Did Nadal say he was going to retire?! I think he said he was going to retire. 

And it's break point as del Potro passes him with a backhand down the line - but he saves it and gets back to game point. I'm still trying to deal with the fact that he seems to have told the umpire he was going to retire? Why not do it then? Instead of holding for 2-4, which is in fact what he has done.
22:59 07 Sep

Nadal 6-7(3), 1-4 del Potro - Delpo consolidates the break

Beware the injured opponent. Del Potro tries to be extremely cute and uses the out-fox routine again but Nadal is all over it for 0-15 and then del Potro buries an inside-out forehand in the net for 0-30. Rather reminiscent of the unforced errors he made to hand back the advantage in set 1 - twice - to be honest.

Del Potro steadies with a big serve and cleans up with the short forehand winner for 15-30, and levels at 30-30 as he works Nadal side to side. One is always tempted to read too much into these moments, but that was not brilliant movement from Nadal to the backhand side, and that gave del Potro time for the forehand winner. 

Del Potro runs Nadal to the forehand and gets an error for 40-30, and holds with a lovely clean backhand winner for 4-1.
22:54 07 Sep

Nadal 6-7(3), 1-3 del Potro* - del Potro breaks

The MTO ends after some more white-knuckled massaging, but from now until the end of the match, we'll be watching for any limp, any wince down Nadal's end of the court. 

Del Potro starts off by trying to outfox Nadal at net and although Nadal reads the cheeky dink, he can't make the reflex lob - it drifts long. 0-15 - and 0-30 after an unforced error. 

Make that 0-40 as Delpo gets low, low, low, low to the ball for a backhand pass down the line - but Nadal sizzles a forehand winner down the line on the second shot for 15-40, and del Potro nets as he tries to step in on the backhand for 30-40. 

The Argentine does not want to let Nadal off the hook here - and he won't, or rather Nadal impales himself firmly on it, missing an inside-out forehand off a deep return.
22:50 07 Sep

Medical time-out for Nadal

The trainer is back on for Nadal to replace the knee tape that the world no. 1 ripped off in the first set, and is then massaging his right thigh. 

If you're not streaming, picture Nigella rubbing garlic oil into a leg of lamb. 
22:47 07 Sep

Nadal* 1-2 del Potro

It's del Potro's turn to get a little luck with the net cord as he charges the net to clean up after a big forehand for 15-0, and he lands a service winner for 30-0. He's into the net again for 40-0 and is now 11/16 on darts into the forecourt - and an ace down the T to hold for love. A good comeback after not being able to break serve in the previous game.
22:41 07 Sep

Nadal 1-1 del Potro* - Nadal saves two break points

Del Potro is feeling good right now, stroking his 16th winner up the line past Nadal to start the game before Nadal surges back with a service winner for 15-15.

A pounding exchange of deep balls and del Potro steps in for a forehand winner into the corner - his eighth - for 15-30.

Unbelievably good point for 15-40! Nadal comes up with a remarkable defensive dig but del Potro is fleet across the court to catch it to put away a forehand volley! Can he make this moment of genius count?

Nadal lands a great serve down the T for 30-40, and pumps his fist furiously. If he holds here, watch out ... and he may well do just that, with a fine serve to the del Potro backhand for deuce.

Another big serve, and he works del Potro off the court to get a backhand slice into the net to hold. Superb from Nadal to snuff out del Potro's incipient momentum.
22:36 07 Sep

Nadal* 6-7(3), 0-1 del Potro - Delpo holds to open set 2

Del Potro serving to open the second set, and the last thing he needs is a let down.

He's up 40-15 before Nadal slaps a lightning-fast second-serve return winner past him for 40-30 - and suddenly he's in trouble as he attacks the net, but Nadal easily gets enough on the pass attempt to get a forehand volley into the net from del Potro.

A framed return from Nadal gives up game point though, and del Potro plays a frankly rude backhand drop volley winner to hold, seizing the moment when Nadal is so far off the court that even he can't chase it down.
22:31 07 Sep

Set 1 stats

Really, del Potro should have won it twice before he actually did, but at least he got himself over the line in the end. 

No surprises in the stat (screengrab via Amazon Prime. Thanks, Amazon. Pay your taxes!)
22:21 07 Sep

SET Del Potro leads 7-6(3)

So after 60 minutes, the first set will go to a tie-break. Nadal serving to open ...

0-1 - instant mini-break for del Potro as Nadal misses a forehand wide, with some help from the net cord!
2-0 - Del Potro consolidates the mini-break with a serve and forehand winner off the short ball.
2-1 - Second serve for del Potro after someone from the crowd calls out. Great exchange, but Nadal sharpens the angle on his cross-court backhand for a beautiful winner. Superb.
1-3 - And del Potro comes right back with an 86mph forehand winner. No biggie. No pasaran.
2-3 - Oh. My. God. Nadal with a forehand drop shot that somehow rolls UP the net and down the other side. OK, not quite, but it was a pretty crazy net cord.
4-2 - Nadal lobs del Potro and it lands just long. The Spaniard challenges to no avail.
5-2 - Del Potro opens up some daylight in the score with a big forehand winner off the short ball. Timely first serve.
3-5 - Nadal's turn for a first serve. 
3-6 - Set points del Potro, who commands the court from inside the baseline and has Nadal running from side to side - the line is open for Nadal's favoured running forehand down the line, but it goes wide. 
7-3 - SET DEL POTRO as Nadal buries his backhand in the net!
22:16 07 Sep

Nadal 6-6 del Potro - the first set goes to a tie-break

Del Potro starts off this crucial service game by challenging his own serve, which he thought he missed and hence left Nadal's return. It was good. Somewhere Federer is muttering something about clowns and circuses.

Del Potro levels at 15-15 and stands up well to backhand pressure on the next point, but Nadal beetles across for his cross-court and lofts the ball magnificently down the line for 15-30.

Del Potro's serve bails him out once more for 30-30, but Nadal has won 8 of the last 10 points. He won't win this one, though, because del Potro fires a forehand passing winner down the line - a point for a tie-break. 

Del Potro's serve is called out - and he has no challenges remaining! But he holds behind his second serve as Nadal nets a backhand down the line. TIE-BREAK.
22:12 07 Sep

Rafa on the rampage

This passes for unbridled rage in the world of Rafael Nadal. 


22:12 07 Sep

Nadal 6-5 del Potro*

So, twice this set del Potro has broken. He had two set points, and made three consecutive unforced errors. Advantage Nadal - indeed one might almost say game, set & match Nadal.

He is barely involved in Nadal's service game and Nadal holds to love to lead 6-5.
22:04 07 Sep

Nadal* 5-5 del Potro - Nadal breaks back as del Potro serves for the set

Nadal has now taken the knee tape off. Clearly that was responsible for getting broken in the last game. And he's impatiently flung away a water bottle. This is big.

Del Potro serving for the set ... 

That's what you might call a sub-optimal start as he slices wide for 0-15 with Nadal all over him. 

Del Potro levels for 15-15 as he commands the court with his forehand from inside the baseline, hammering down three shots that would have been winners against most other players - but pushes one wide for 15-30. He challenges, but to no avail.

That was a second serve from del Potro, but Nadal returned it inside the baseline - that's something he hasn't done so far in this match (and rarely in the tournament).

30-30 as del Potro approaches the net behind an excellent forehand shot and deftly puts away a backhand volley - and a second serve to Nadal's backhand gets an error as Nadal tries the aggressive return routine again. Set point.

Big exchange, del Potro tries to go back behind Nadal with a backhand - it's wide, as Hawkeye confirms. Deuce. Superb defense from Nadal in that point - del Potro hit a forehand that should, in any universe ruled by a basic sense of justice, that should have been a winner. 

Set point again as del Potro moves in behind his serve and polishes a short ball off with a backhand down the line - but he buries a short forehand in the net for deuce again, then overpresses on the forehand for break point. 

And Nadal breaks as del Potro puts his backhand down the line in the net! 
21:59 07 Sep

Nadal 4-5 del Potro* - del Potro breaks to 15!

A loose error from Nadal for 15-15 seems to open the door a crack for del Potro, and he digs his fingernail into that crack for 15-30 with a lengthy rally which Nadal tries to end with a forehand drop-shot - but one not good enough for del Potro not to chase down, and Nadal's lob goes long. 

A Nadal error gives up two break points, and del Potro needs no second invitation - he winds up on the forehand, returns very deep and sends one down the line that Nadal can only slice into the net!
21:55 07 Sep

Nadal* 4-4 del Potro

Nadal really goes after the del Potro backhand in the opening point, throwing in slices to both wings and eventually drawing the backhand error for 0-15.

Delpo strikes back with a one-two punch, redirecting Nadal's deep return into the opposite corner with his forehand, 15-15 - then a serve, short forehand and smash for 30-15. 

Nadal challenges the out call on his forehand fruitlessly, and del Potro swiftly holds for the game.
21:52 07 Sep

Trainer on for Nadal

The trainer has been summoned on for Nadal - looks like he wants the right knee taped, as it was from the early stages against Khachanov.
21:50 07 Sep

Nadal 4-3 del Potro*

Nadal serves and volleys to great effect to start the game, and just serves for 30-0. 

Del Potro unloads a forehand so fast and brutal that it draws an audible, spontaneous groan from the entire crowd, and still doesn't win the point. Nadal's defense, ladies and gentlemen.

And a reflex forehand down the line winner for Nadal to hold to love. 
21:45 07 Sep

Nadal* 3-3 del Potro

25 minutes on the clock and one senses del Potro is about to start really, really regretting letting that opening break of the Nadal serve slip away as the defending champion gains a 0-30 foothold on the Argentine's serve, courtesy of a backhand buried in the net. 

Del Potro lands a good first serve down the T for 15-30, and winds up some big forehands for 30-30 - but he had an opportunity to dart in to net as Nadal sliced, and he didn't take it. I wonder if the failure of his early forays into net have burned him on that tactic.

Game point for del Potro behind a one-two punch, and he has to defend his second serve - and does so beautifully, stepping inside the baseline for a backhand down the line.
21:41 07 Sep

Nadal 3-2 del Potro*

After that early exchange of breaks, looks like both men have started to find something of a rhythm on serve. 

Nadal finds a good 120mph delivery down the T to the del Potro forehand to give himself two game points, and finishes off neatly at net to hold.

It's a truth universally acknowledged that Nadal is the most underrated volleyer in men's tennis - paradoxical though that might be - but truly, the hands you need to stop the bullet from del Potro's cross-court forehand dead enough to keep the volley in the court are ... good.
21:35 07 Sep

Nadal* 2-2 del Potro

For the first time, del Potro stings Nadal with a passing shot as the Spaniard tries to take advantage of having got the Argentine on the scramble - and it was a backhand pass down the line, as well, which will give his fans heart.

Del Potro is quickly in trouble, though, as Nadal attacks the net again for 15-15 and del Potro's forehand skips off the net cord and lands out for 15-30. 

A service winner for 30-30 has Nadal slapping his thigh in frustration - he obviously feels like he should have made that return. 

Nadal's backhand wide gives del Potro game point - and he converts with a neat one-two punch, sweeping the forehand into the open space created with a wide serve. 
21:32 07 Sep

Nadal 2-1 del Potro* - first hold of serve of the match

Slight technical problems so I didn't see all of this game - but I can tell you del Potro got to 30-30 before a couple of loose shots, culminating with a forehand long, saw Nadal hold.
21:26 07 Sep

Nadal* 1-1 del Potro - Nadal breaks back

Well then. A dream start for del Potro, but only if he holds ... and he's quickly down 0-30 as he attacks the net and is punished with some exceptional reflex shots from Nadal. 

And two points for Nadal to get back on serve as del Potro tries to inject pace on the backhand under pressure and it hits the net - and he breaks straight back as del Potro's forehand flies. Game on.
21:19 07 Sep

Nadal vs del Potro* 0-1 - del Potro breaks to open

Here we go ...

Dominic Thiem managed to catch Nadal flat-footed and get an early break that set him up for a bagel first set. Del Potro would be pretty lucky to get a similar start. 

But the Argentine is quickly up 0-30 with two deceptively deep returns and two netted balls from Nadal.

The first lengthy exchange of the match is a cracker - Nadal initially targets the del Potro backhand, del Potro manages to get the ball on his forehand and approaches with an angled short forehand, but Nadal is ready and curves it smartly past the Argentine and down the line. 15-30 and the first fist-pump of the match. 

A wide backhand gives del Potro two break points for 15-40. Nadal saves the first with an extremely delicate forehand drop shot - but a lengthy exchange on the second sees del Potro break as a very, very deep backhand gets him on top of the rally and he pressures the error out of Nadal.
21:16 07 Sep

Stream Nadal vs del Potro live from New York

Here's how you can watch Nadal vs del Potro in the semifinals of the 2018 US Open live. 

1. Visit the bet365 website

2. Sign into your account or register for a new one

3. Select Live Streaming

4. Select 'Tennis’ from the ‘All Sports’ dropdown menu

5. Click on Nadal vs del Potro and enjoy the match!

21:12 07 Sep

Coin toss

Today's umpire is James Keothavong, reminding the players about the shot clock. These are two of the slowest guys out there, so that's definitely a thread to keep an eye on.
21:10 07 Sep

Players taking the court!

We have players! 

Juan Martin del Potro, resplendent in one orange sleeve, followed by Rafael Nadal, in steely grey and steely face.

Judging by their initial cheers, the crowd will be with Nadal - but del Potro has a posse, maybe 20 strong, of friends from Tandil who have been making their presence ... felt, let's say, in previous matches.
21:00 07 Sep

Time for the match to start!

It's 4pm local/9pm BST. Oh, did you think the players would be on court? 

You must be new here. 
20:52 07 Sep

'I missed more Grand Slams than other players'

It's the first time since 2011 that Nadal has made three Grand Slam semifinals in one season, having done so at the French Open, Wimbledon and now here. 

The Spaniard has been reflecting on his history of injuries, saying: 'Probably I am sure that I missed more Grand Slams in my career in terms of the top guys comparing to the other top players.'

It takes some chutzpah to say that when you're about to face del Potro, who has had two major career hiatuses to undergo wrist surgery, missing three Grand Slams in a row in 2010, and a staggering nine in a row in 2014-16. But that's none of my business. [nail-painting emoji] 
20:45 07 Sep

Deja vu all over again

This is, of course, the 9-year anniversary of the US Open semifinal when del Potro defeated Nadal 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, denying the Spaniard a chance to play for the career Grand Slam and going on to defeat Roger Federer in the final to capture the title, aged just 19.

It's also the 12-month anniversary of the US Open semifinal which Nadal won 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, wearing down a del Potro who was horribly fatigued from coming back from two sets down against Dominic Thiem (while suffering from a fever) and then beating Federer to make the final four.

This year, del Potro has dropped just one set on the way to the semifinals while Nadal has been dragged to four sets by Karen Khachanov and Nikoloz Basilashvili and five sets by Thiem - all in some of the most brutal conditions imaginable.

What's going to happen today? 
20:42 07 Sep

Pre-match reading

There's about 20 minutes to go before the players take the court - which is a nice amount of time for you to whet your appetite with some pre-match analysis courtesy of, well, us. 

Leye Aduloju looks back at some of the most memorable encounters between Nadal and del Potro - from their 2009 US Open semifinal, a beatdown del Potro handed to Nadal, to their remarkable Wimbledon five-setter just a few weeks ago.


There's more where that came from ...
20:36 07 Sep

Welcome to the men's semifinals live blog

Less than 30 minutes to go before the 2018 US Open men's semifinals begin and we are officially starting our live blog.

We will be here with regular updates, commentary, analysis and probably more than a few jokes, to keep anybody who's out there informed and entertained through the night as Rafael Nadal takes on Juan Martin del Potro and Novak Djokovic faces Kei Nishikori.

You really couldn't fault the line-up AND the word is that the weather has cooled off, meaning that tonight we might actually get to talk about the tennis and not just wonder who's going to keel over first.

I'm Hannah Wilks, aka @newballsplease, and while my colleagues Leye Aduloju and Andrew Hendrie man the fort over at @livetennis, I'll be here until the end. Who's excited?!



The final stages of the 2018 US Open promise to be thrilling as four exceptional combatants face off in a bid to reach the final in New York - somewhere all four semifinalists have been before.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal, the top seed, takes on 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro in the first men's semifinal, live from 4pm local/9pm BST on Friday 7 September. The second semifinal, between two-time champion Novak Djokovic and 2014 runner-up Kei Nishikori, will follow.

Amazon Prime are broadcasting the US Open in the UK and other live streaming providers are available, but we will also be live-blogging every ball of both semifinals, with updates posted after every game of both matches as well as ongoing match analysis and live scores also available on livetennis.com

Live updates will commence 30 minutes before the first semifinal begins on Friday, but in the meantime, here's some explanation of why you should be so excited about the 2018 US Open men's semifinals.

The first 11 days of the final Grand Slam of the 2018 season have been full of drama - and while the unusually hot and humid weather has contributed to that, testing the phsyical and mental fitness of the players like never before, Rafael Nadal has also played his part in that. 

Nadal has played three thrillers in a row - first a four-set match against powerful Russian Karen Khachanov in the third round, then another four-set match against Nikoloz Basilashvili, and in the quarterfinals, a rematch of the French Open final that saw Dominic Thiem infinitely more competitive against Nadal on hard courts than he was able to do on the clay of Roland Garros. Thiem threw everything at Nadal, bagelling him in the first set, and the two battled in an exceptionally high-quality match for four hours and 54 minutes and into the small hours of the morning in New York before a fifth-set tie-break separated the two, Nadal winning 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(5).

The match was full of pageantry, cruelty and brilliant tennis - but has his dramatic road to the semifinals been too much for Nadal? He faces a player who should be able to test him in Juan Martin del Potro. The 2009 champion faced Nadal in last year's semifinals, but was too exhausted from suffering from illness while coming back from two sets down against Thiem and then beating Roger Federer to really challenge the Spaniard. 

Fatigue shouldn't stand in del Potro's way on Friday: Despite the brutal conditions some of his matches have been played in, he's dropped just one set on his way to the semifinals. The Argentine came into the tournament at a career-high ranking of world no. 3 and is into two major semifinals in a season for the first time since he beat Nadal and Federer back-to-back to win the US Open in 2009. Del Potro's career has been decimated by injuries, with chronic tendonitis in his left wrist forcing him to miss almost two full years of competition, undergo multiple surgeries and completely rebuild his ranking and his backhand. The fact that the Argentine has come back from that to be ranked in the top five and a contender for Grand Slam titles again is incredible - but can he get past Nadal, who beat him at last year's US Open, at the French Open, and in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in a five-set thriller?

Novak Djokovic has won 12 matches in a row against his semifinal opponent, Kei Nishikori - but Nishikori has beaten him in a US Open semifinal before, and this is also no ordinary US Open. Djokovic came in as a hot favourite to win a third title after the Serb, who had struggled with injury and for motivation over the past two years, returned to the winners' circle in sensational style when he captured the Wimbledon title and went on to become the first man in history to have won all nine Masters 1000 Series titles when he triumphed in Cincinnati. And the Serb's journey to the semifinals at the US Open has been mainly smooth: He has struggled in the heat, badly at times - he dropped sets to Marton Fucsovics and Tennys Sandgren in the first two rounds - but the draw has opened up for him. After beating Richard Gasquet in the third round, Djokovic faced the unseeded Joao Sousa and John Millman - who had stunned an off-colour Federer in the fourth round - in the last 16 and quarterfinals respectively to cruise into the final four.

He now faces Kei Nishikori, who reached the first and only Grand Slam final of his career so far by beating Djokovic at the US Open in 2014. Nishikori subdued Marin Cilic over five sets of twists and turns - what can he do against Djokovic on Friday?

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Novak Djokovic beats Kei Nishikori to set up a US Open final against Juan Martin del Potro after Rafael Nadal retires: Men's semifinals as they happened

Novak Djokovic will face Juan Martin del Potro in the final of the 2018 US Open after Nadal retired trailing del Potro 6-7(3), 2-6 and Djokovic beat Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4, 6-2: Men's semifinals as they happened

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