Novak Djokovic sat out last year's US Open to rest an elbow injury that eventually required surgery, but that pain and frustration felt like a distant memory on Friday when he made his march on the final at Flushing Meadows with authority. As a 20-year-old, he had astonishingly beaten Nadal and Roger Federer to win his first Major title, and earmarked himself for a greatness.
For the 31-year-old Djokovic, victory on Sunday would represent a second Slam in succession after his Wimbledon triumph and 14th in a remarkable career.
The third seed, who advanced after world number one Rafa Nadal retired from their match due to injury on Friday, said persistent wrist ailments almost led to him exiting the sport in 2015, what he called the "worst moment" of his career. "I got depressed for couple of months also", Del Potro told reporters.
In the history of tennis rankings, Juan Martin Del Potro has scored more wins over world No. 1 ranked player than any other man who is yet to reach the top spot on the ATP tour. All four players are past finalists at Flushing Meadows, the first time that's happened at the US Open since 2011. "That's just a demoralising turn of events for Del Potro", tennis legend John McEnroe said in commentary for ESPN.
"I can't believe that I will have the chance to play another Grand Slam final here, which is my favourite tournament", del Potro said after reaching the final when defending champion Rafael Nadal quit their semi-final when trailing by two sets because of a knee injury.
Defending champion Sloane Stephens could not repeat her dream performance from past year, but she gave it her all.
"Serve. Return. Groundstrokes. He was playing aggressive".
The third seed will now await the victor of the second semi-final between Japan's Kei Nishikori and Serbia's Novak Djokovic. "I'm sad for him". But the one thing that is agreed upon unanimously is this - no one in the era of "Big Four" deserves Grand Slam glory more than Juan Martin del Potro.
"It means a lot to be back in the final", added Del Potro after his sixth win over Nadal, all on hard court.
Thankfully, the 21st seed appeared to avoid injury and duly played his best tennis of the match after dropping the first set, fighting hard to stay with his illustrious opponent. His knee was also taped in the first set. Six months off you are back.' I know what I have to do to be better as soon as possible.
Back from career-threatening wrist problems, Del Potro has shone throughout this tournament, but will have his work cut out to deny former world No. 1 Djokovic if the Serbian reproduces the form he showed on Friday.
As everybody knows, this is my favorite tournament since I'm kid.
"I just feel like, not only is my future bright, even though I'm not a spring chicken, but I still have a very, very bright future". Mike Bryan, along with partner Jack Sock, won his record 18th doubles Grand Slam title.
Djokovic went into cruise control in the third set, winning four consecutive games from 2-2 to win the match and book his spot in the final.