New York, Sep 9 (IANS) Spanish star Rafael Nadal qualified for the men’s singles final at the US Open tennis tournament with a hard fought victory over Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina here.
The current World No.1 had to fight hard before winning 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 in a semi-final match that lasted for two hours and 31 minutes here on Friday evening, reports Efe news agency.
Nadal will face Kevin Anderson of South Africa in the final. Kevin had beaten Spain’s Pablo Carreno 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 in the other semi-final.
This is the 23rd Grand Final of Nadal’s career. He has won a total of 15 Grand Slam titles, including two at the US Open.
The 31-year-old has reached the US Open final on three previous occasions, meeting Serbian star Novak Djokovic in all three title showdowns. Nadal emerged triumphant in 2010 and 2013 while losing to Djokovic 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(3-7), 6-1 in the final of the 2011 edition.
In a brief statement on court at the end of the match, Nadal acknowledged that in the first set he was playing too much against the backhand of Del Potro.
“I knew something had to change,” he added.
Nadal stressed the importance of reaching the final of the last Grand Slam of the season, which he considers the most important match of the season.
Anderson, the 28th seed, defeated Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 here Friday to claim a spot in the US Open final.
Earlier in the evening, Anderson survived a tough challenge in the first Grand Slam semi-final of his career to reach the summit clash.
Placed 32nd in the world rankings, The South African became the lowest-ranked player to reach the final in New York since the launch of the ATP rankings in 1973.
Anderson, who stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall, hit 22 aces against the 12th-seeded Carreño Busta.
Both semi-finalists benefited from a depleted bottom half of the draw, which opened up when injured Scottish world No.2 Andy Murray withdrew from the tournament prior to his first match and sixth-ranked German Alexander Zverev suffered an upset in the second round.
Other top men’s singles players were also forced to miss tennis’ most prestigious hard-court event due to injuries: Serbian great Novak Djokovic, Canada’s Milos Raonic, Swiss defending champion Stan Wawrinka and Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
“It’s been a long road. We’ve been privileged to play in these tournaments against some of the game’s great players. It was nice for some of them to give us the opportunity to do this (by their absence). It’s why we worked so hard,” Anderson said after the victory.
“It was an unbelievably tough match for both of us. I really had to dig deep there. I’m just over the moon. I’ve given myself one more shot.
“Last year, I was told I probably needed surgery on my hip, but here I am just nine months later. This means the absolute world to me,” he added.