Nadal reaches US Open final, eyes 16th Grand Slam title

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot from Kevin Anderson of South Africa during the men's singles final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament Sunday Sept. 10 2017 in New York

'He was playing me all the time to my backhand.

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

It will be a sixth US Open semi-final for Nadal and 26th at the majors while Del Potro, the 24th seed, will be playing in just his fourth last-four match at the Slams. I don't want to say I was in negative mindset, but I knew going in that I'm not in a safe place. Nadal admits that "Juan Martin is a top player". "This year since the beginning has been a very emotional year".

"It's been an awesome season for me and I'm so happy to get a chance to fight for another title after a couple of seasons with injury troubles", said Nadal, who won a record-extending 10th French Open title in June. So you appreciate it.

Looking forward to his next opponent, Nadal said: "It will be very tough against Kevin".

Roger Federer conceded he was not in the right shape to challenge for another grand slam title as the elusive US Open clash with Rafael Nadal slipped away again.

Nadal has not been as dominant in NY as he was at the French Open, which he won for the 10th time and without dropping a set, but the world number one has played himself into sparkling form. Kevin Anderson looks for a big serve and forehand combination, but has shown vast improvement on his court coverage, particularly in defending on the backhand side. "If you practice well and you feel well, you have more chances to win." concluded Nadal.

World number one Nadal, however, is left-handed and that means the Spaniard will find it easier to avoid Del Potro's forehand - possibly the best on tour.

"I really need to be dominant and control proceedings as much as possible, because if you let him do it, it's very hard".

Top seed Nadal is now also guaranteed to keep hold of the number one ranking ahead of Federer.

Federer congratulated his opponent for the victory. "That was the part, that he did so much better tonight, and that's why he deserves to win".

When asked about missing out on a first-time encounter with Nadal in Flushing Meadows, the five-time US Open victor 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".

Anderson becomes South Africa's first Grand Slam singles finalist since Kevin Curren, who reached the 1985 Wimbledon final three months after becoming a naturalised American citizen. Both last-four matches are on Friday.

But Nadal, second only to Federer in career major-tournament titles with 15, quickly forced a tipping point and powered to a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 victory Friday night.

"What is more important, more than winning Slams, is to be happy", Nadal said.

After the pair split the first two sets with a break apiece, the match turned on a gripping third-set tie-break in which Federer saw four set points slip by.

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