Nadal vs del Potro: rematch on the US Open

FROM THE 2017 US OPEN, FRIDAY, SEPT. 8 — Do you remember the last time that Rafa Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro played in the semis of the 2009 US Open? The Argentine crushed him, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, and he went on to win it all. Then, the Spaniard said that obviously, Del Potro played as well as he could, but that it was very unusual, and that he was in the zone. In a sense, he was right. Now, Nadal has won 15 Grand Slam titles, and DelPo has only won one.

DelPo has been hurt for the past seven years. Had he been healthy the whole time, the tall man might have won 5-10 Slam titles. But he has not, so he has to forget it about it.

In a sense, he put the injuries behind him. He shocked Roger Federer two days ago, and four days ago, when he was sick, he still managed to overcome Dominic Thiem in five classic sets. His huge serve and gigantic forehand are on top of the ball, and he is very smart. His so-called weak backhand has improved, and he really likes to slice and keep it low.

Nadal has improved, too, with his two-hander backhand, which he hits deeper and a little harder than in years past. For sure, the lefty smokes his heavy forehand, and he is extremely fast. Most importantly, he changes his serves: left, right, in the middle, twisted and flattened out.

They have played each other 11 times, all pretty close. Nadal leads 8 to 5, beating him at 2007 Roland Garros, at 2009, 2011 2013 Indian Wells, and at 2011 Wimbledon, among others. DelPotro not only blew out Nadal at the 2009 US Open, but last year in the Olympic Games, he edged Nadal 5-7 6-4 7-6(5) in the semis and in 2013 Shanghai. On Friday night at the US Open, it will be super close.

If it goes five sets, Nadal will exhaust him, but if DelPo starts immediately in the first set and he is touching the lines, then he will frustrate the Spaniard. No one will get nervous because both of them have been around for a long time. You have to think that Nadal will go for it towards the end, hoping that he will tire Del Potro. The same goes for DelPo, who will think that eventually, Nadal will get shaky and he will start to push the ball. Whoever is ready to pounce with the fans jumping up and down will move on into the USO final on Sunday. The winner will be favorite, no matter if Kevin Anderson or Pablo Carreno Busta wins the other semi. 

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