“I hate to retire, but, to stay one more set out there playing like this, it would be too much for me,” Nadal said.
Nadal was trailing del Potro 7-6, 6-2 after 2 hours and 1 minute of playing time when he retired. Earlier in the second set, he told the chair umpire he was going to have to retire due to being “in so much pain.”
“I was just trying to see if something can improve during the match but no, it was not the day,” Nadal said after the match. “You can imagine it was very difficult for me to say goodbye before the match finished. But at some point, you have to take a position. And it was so difficult for me to keep playing at the same time that way — you know, having too much pain, and that was the tennis match at the end.”
It’s the first retirement in a men’s US Open semifinal in the Open era.
Nadal, 32, was optimistic about the injury and pain and said he would recover and rehab it accordingly. He avoided comparing it to his previous knee injury.
Del Potro said after the match it was tough to see Nadal “suffering” on the court, but was grateful to advance to his second US Open final.
It will be del Potro’s second career Grand Slam final; in his first, he reached the 2009 US Open final, where he defeated Roger Federer.