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US Open: Del Potro denies Federer dream tie against Nadal

September 6, 2017

Rafael Nadal dismantled Andrey Rublev to set-up a semi-final showdown with Juan Martin del Potro, who upset Roger Federer in four sets. In the women's draw, Madison Keys' win has set up an all-American semi-final draw.

Tennis US Open Rafael Nadal
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Hunger

A familiar display of brutal hitting from the number 1 seed left Rublev with no reply, as Nadal finished the job in just over an hour and a half to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows for the sixth time.

Nadal dismantled the unseeded Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

However, Roger Federer's loss to Argentine Juan Martin del Potro later on Wednesday meant that Nadal and his old rival, who share 34 major titles between them, were once again denied a first-time meeting at the US Open

"It was a good match," Nadal said. "For Andrey it was his first quarter-finals, so of course he played with more mistakes than usual. But winning two matches with straight sets is important for me.

"This year has been an emotional year. I have been playing very well almost every tournament after some years with some problems in terms of injuries and others from not playing so well. So you appreciate it. Especially late in my career it’s something six or seven years ago I didn’t think about. I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals."

Nadal has dropped just two sets in the tournament so far and was never troubled by his Russian opponent, who hit 43 unforced errors during the contest. 

Tennis US Open 2017 Federer - del Potro
Image: Reuters/USA Today Sports/R. Deutsch

'Lion' del Potro powers past Federer

Not for the first time in his career, Juan Martin del Potro gatecrashed the US Open later on Wednesday, defeating Roger Federer in four sets, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, and shattering hopes of a dream semi-final tie between the Swiss third seed and Nadal.

After nearly three hours of play before a spellbound crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the Argentine giant repeated his killing act of 2009, where he won the US Open at the expense of Federer. 

In a tight fourth set, del Potro broke Federer in the fifth game. From that moment, the Argentine always looked in control, right up until he clinched the win with an unstoppable driving forehand down the line.

"I think it's my home court too," del Potro told the crowd after the match. "You make me feel happy every time I play here and I love your support."

Looking ahead to his semi-final against Nadal, the Argentine 28th seed said: "Against Rafa, hopefully I can repeat the result. I know against Rafa the crowd will be tough for me but I hope you are cheering for me again. He's number one in the world, but with this amazing support anything can happen."

Federer congratulated his opponent for the victory. "Fought like a lion," he said, before conceding that his current form was not good enough to deserve a semi-final place.

When asked about missing out on a first-time encounter with Nadal in Flushing Meadows, the five-time US Open winner said he was focused more on understanding what went wrong in his match, before adding that "it's a pity but Juan Martin deserves it more."

The other men's semi-final will be between South Africa's Kevin Anderson and Pablo Carreno Busta, of Spain. Both last-four matches are on Friday.

Home favorites sweep women's semi-final draw

World number 15 Madison Keys made it an all-American US Open semi-final round in the women's draw for the first time since 1981, after she defeated 418th-ranked qualifier Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday.

"This means the world to me, I'm so happy to be here. We have four American women playing and that's pretty awesome," she said.

Earlier in the day, Coco Vandeweghe dispatched women's top seed  Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 to match her best ever Grand Slam performance.

Vandeweghe raced to a 3-0 lead in the first-set tiebreak, then got an early break in the second set on her way to 3-1 lead, frustrating last year's runner-up with her powerful shots.

"I won the juniors here when I was 16 and dreamed of playing on the real stage," said the 25-year-old after her win, which means that Pliskova loses her world number 1 spot to Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.

Keys and Vandeweghe join their compatriots Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens in the final four.

mp,dm/ng (Reuters, AP)