Rafael Nadal has suggested that the key to victory against Juan Martin del Potro will be to keep him off his forehand, which he describes as ‘maybe the fastest on the tour’.
Speaking ahead of their highly anticipated semi final clash on Friday, the 15-time grand slam winner insists he’ll have to be playing his at his best to beat Del Potro, and suggested that targeting the big Argentine’s backhand would be the smartest tactic.
“I need to be very focused with my serve and be aggressive, because if you let him play from good positions with his forehand, you are dead, because he plays super aggressive, hitting so hard," Nadal said, as per The Metro.
“I need to play long. I need to play against his backhand, and then open the court.”
Nadal and Del Potro have faced off before in a US Open semi-final, back in 2009 when the Argentine won in straight sets on his way to his one and only grand slam victory.
All in all, the duo have faced each other thirteen times over the course of their careers, with Nadal coming out on top with eight wins and five losses. Friday’s match will be the fourth time the two have met during a grand slam tournament.
Nadal breezed past 19-year-old Andrey Rublev in straight sets to advance to the semis in New York for the first time since 2013, dropping just five games.
The clay-court master was however full of praise for his quarter-final opponent.
“He [Del Potro] won against great players, competing very well. For the last six months, I think he’s improved a lot. If he continues with that improvement, he’s gonna fight for the most important things that we have in our sport. I think he has the right people around.
“He’s a good guy. Humble. He has passion for what he’s doing. I think he’s working well.”
Del Potro himself saw off Roger Federer in a gripping four-set match to reach just his fourth grand slam semi-final of his career.