Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro played 17 matches on the ATP Tour, with the Spaniard scoring 11 wins. Rafa and Juan Martin battled it out on the notable stage almost every time, though they only met once in the ATP Finals.
The great players will not have a chance to extend their rivalry, since the Argentine retired on Tuesday night at his home, Buenos Aires. His last meeting was at the 2018 US Open, when Nadal withdrew in the semi-finals with a knee injury after trailing 7-6, 6-2.
In the previous rounds, the Spaniard spent more than 12 hours on the court against Karen Khachanov, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Dominic Thiem, and could not withstand another effort against the Argentine. In his sixth and final Major semifinal, del Potro advanced to his second Major title clash, nine years after contesting his first, also in New York.
Thus, Nadal was unable to defend his US Open crown, suffering the fourth loss of the season and the second after a retirement! Nothing could separate the two great rivals in the first set, as they both made two breaks and scored 39 points.
It was a high-quality game of tennis, with more winners than unforced errors and plenty of exciting exchanges and engaging shots. Juan Martin managed to defend his backhand, just like in the first set 12 months ago, and was twice a front break.
The match started with consecutive breaks of serve, and they served well in the next six games to stay neck-and-neck. Juan Martin broke at 15 in the ninth game after forcing an error from Rafa and had two set points on his serve in the next.
Daria Kasatkina talks about Nadal
In a recent interview with Eurosport, Daria Kasatkina showered praise on Rafael Nadal. The Russian revealed she was inspired by the Spaniard's Australian Open triumph and "overwhelmed with emotions" after watching him battle it out on the court.
"I was overwhelmed with emotions from Rafa's tears. Seeing at 35 a man who has been playing tennis for 20 years and has taken everything he can, has reached all sorts of heights, it is impossible to react differently," said Kasatkina.
She also stated that Nadal's journey encourages her a lot since she has also mostly been "sick" since her childhood. "He even reached the final with tears in his eyes. He has so many emotions. You can see how important it is for him, what he went through for this.
It delights me and as a person who has been sick since the cradle, it inspires me," added the World No. 22."