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Rafael Nadal def Juan Martin del Potro 46 60 63 62
At the 2009 US Open, Juan Martin del Potro became the first player to defeat both Rafael Nadal (SF) and Roger Federer (F) in the same Slam. That defeat 8-years-ago was the last time Nadal lost a Semifinal match at the Majors. With tonight’s victory, Rafa has now won 15 consecutive Slam Semi’s since. The 15-time Grand Slam Champion is now 23-3 in the Final Four at the Majors. Astonishing.
Delpo took chapter one, but Rafa was the page turner
Despite the scoreline, the 2017 US Open’s remaining Semifinal was a match that featured some of the most remarkable exchanges of the tournament. From overpowering ground-strokes to cat-and-mouse play at the net, both played the crowd. It was showtime; two great performers sharing the stage in tennis’ Carnegie Hall.
Competing in his first Major Semifinal since 2013, Juan Martin del Potro broke first, then served out the first set 6-4…before completely disappearing in the second. Rafa felt he was playing too much to Delpo’s backhand in set-1, so he focused on moving Delpo around the court, determined make his shot selection unpredictable. It was effective. Nadal won 9 consecutive games and used that momentum to steamroll Delpo the rest of the way. Juan Martin managed only 3 holds in the third and two in the fourth, before Rafa set-up match point with a brilliant serve and volley, then crushed a backhand pass for the win.
Rafa’s third Slam Final of the year
On Sunday, Rafa will compete in his 23rd career Grand Slam Final, his third of 2017. The reigning Australian Open Finalist and French Open Champion will look to secure his 16th Major title, completing a season “Slam Sweep” for he and Roger Federer.
In 2010, Rafa defeated Novak Djokovic to earn his first US Open title. A year later, the two traded places. In 2013, Nadal earned his second title in Flushing by beating Djokovic again. In his fourth career US Open Final, Rafa will finally face someone other than Novak: Kevin Anderson. Earlier today, Kevin defeated Pablo Carreno Busta to become the first South African to reach a Grand Slam Final in the Open Era. In their four previous meetings, Kevin has managed to win only one set off Nadal.
Delpo’s encouraging Open
While Rafa looks to close the gap on Roger Federer’s 19 Grand Slam titles, Juan Martin del Potro heads into the Asian swing with a huge confidence boost. The integrity of the wrist is sound. He blasted through three top-15 players to reach his first Major Semifinal since the pre-wrist-surgery 2013 Wimbledon Championships. World #13 Roberto Bautista Agut folded in straight-sets. Delpo then overcame a fever, coming back from two sets down to defeat World #8 Dominic Thiem. For the second time, he dissected one of the greatest to ever play the game in Arthur Ashe Stadium, defeating World #3 Roger Federer in four sets. The big Argentine, with a bigger heart, is back to thrilling fans and foes with an overwhelming forehand capable of neutralizing any “predictable” path to triumph, in any draw around the world.