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Friday, 18 January, 2019

Rafael Nadal and old foe del Potro can put on a show

Rejuvenated Novak Djokovic set to tee up another shot at Grand Slam glory

Rafael Nadal could be in for a tough battle
1 of 1

Men's semi-finals
Amazon Prime, 5pm Friday

R Nadal v J Martin del Potro

Rafael Nadal hasn’t made things easy for himself as he bids to retain his US Open crown and the Spaniard should expect another stern test from old foe Juan Martin del Potro.

Nadal needed five sets to see off Dominic Thiem in a gruelling quarter-final, while he also dropped sets in earlier wins over Nikoloz Basilashvili and Karen Khachanov.

Those hard-fought victories suggest the world number one is unlikely to have things all his own way and a semi-final showdown with a determined del Potro, who tasted his sole Grand Slam success at Flushing Meadows nine years ago, will require more.

The pair played out an epic five-set quarter-final at Wimbledon in July, with the Spaniard narrowly coming out on top.

The Argentinian trails Nadal in their personal series and has lost all three of their meetings in the last two seasons but he has been as consistent as ever this year, making at least the quarter-final stage in his last five events, and his giant serve should help him keep close tabs on his London conqueror.

Gruelling temperatures have played a key role at Flushing Meadows and Del Potro’s powerful serve, which was a big asset as he downed towering American John Isner in the last eight, can keep his service games short and sweet.

The dynamic duo look evenly matched on current form, just one of their past seven meetings has been won in straight sets, and punters should take a chance on their mouthwatering semi-final tussle going the distance.

Match to last five sets

1pt 21-10 Sky Bet

K Nishikori v N Djokovic

Novak Djokovic needed four sets to see off Kei Nishikori on his way to a fourth Wimbledon title in July and the rejuvenated Serb can tee up another shot at Grand Slam glory with an equally smooth success.

Nishikori's career has been blighted by injury but he is performing well now, as illustrated in his five-set triumph over classy Croatian Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals.

His two best efforts at Grand Slam level have both come at Flushing Meadows. The Japanese ace was a beaten finalist in 2014 before reaching the semi-final two years later.

However, Nishikori trails Djokovic 14-2 in their personal series - he has lost their past 13 meetings - and the silky Serb seemingly has his measure.

Djokovic went two years without a Grand Slam title before bouncing back at Wimbledon in July and his success in the Cincinnati Masters after that, which included victories over Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, Cilic and Roger Federer, confirmed he was back to his best.

Nishikori is rediscovering his spark but his five-set marathon with Cilic must have left a mark and Djokovic looks ready to pounce.

The Serb has made the last four having faced just one seed but, despite the stiffer competition, odds-against quotes about a fourth consecutive straight-sets triumph are too good to refuse.

N Djokovic 3-0
1pt 5-4 Betway

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The pair played out an epic five-set quarter-final at Wimbledon in July and their US Open rematch can get the airing time it deserves
E.W. Terms
Sky bet