In Friday's women's semis 24-year-old American Sloane Stephen stunned veteran compatriot and two-time champion Venus Williams 6-1 0-6 7-5. Each of the four ladies defeated players (from the community of Europe), who had been predominant at Grand Slam events for over a decade. That would be as close as Nadal would come to reclaim the break, as del Potro powered through his remaining service games, closing out the set 6-4 with a forehand victor. It was followed by an ace and a drop shot that clinched the game.
Del Potro saved two set points in the third set tiebreak before claiming the set with a sensational crosscourt backhand victor. This was the arsenal that clinched the first break in the 11th game of the frist set. As he now looks to repeat his 2009 heroics against Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals with the odds stacked against him once again, one thing he can bank on is that the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium will have his back! "I made a double fault in the 6-all and that can not happen against Federer, but I got lucky". Moments later, the Argentinean giant had the first set.
Del Potro has overcome injuries and illness to reach the men's semifinals after beating five-time champion Roger Federer on Wednesday. The set progressed routinely on short service games and ended 6-3 for Federer. Self admittedly, thoughts of retiring were taking root in Del Potro's mind. This is for the first time since 2003 that two tennis player from the same nation holds top two spots in the singles arena.
Interestingly, in the women's circuit, Garbine Muguruza claimed her first World No. 1 title in the WTA Rankings which will also release this Monday.
It's been a strong tournament for Del Potro.
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As for his four squandered set-points in the tie-breaker, Federer said: "I don't think those four points made all the difference".
Nadal was pretty psyched with the victory, which will have him playing for his third US Open title on Sunday.
A few years ago, struggling with pain and frustrated with his recovery, del Potro considered retirement. He went through his routine of blowing air on his racket hand. In his next service game, the Argentine sent a forehand long to fall behind 0-40 for the first time in the match. When he misses a painfully simple volley he does not gesticulate and admonish himself, he walks back and gets ready for the next point.
"I feel like I'm just being a bit more patient with myself". There was no catching the Spaniard now as, with del Potro serving to stay in the set at 0-5, he struck a clean return victor to set up double break/set point.
"I didn't even think about it, as I lost that match, that it's not going to happen", Federer said when asked if he was thinking about a potential matchup with Nadal.
The 28-year-old will once again face world number one Nadal in the semi-finals on Friday, a stunning achievement for a man who had saved two match points to beat sixth seed Dominic Thiem in the last 16.