Novak Djokovic stayed on course for back-to-back grand slam titles by beating Kei Nishikori to set up a US Open final against Juan Martin del Potro.
Devastated Rafael Nadal vowed the knee injury that forced him out of the US Open semi-final on Friday won't stop him chasing more Grand Slam glory.
It was the ninth consecutive slam semi-final that the 31-year-old has won and sends him through to a 23rd final.
"I love to play against Rafa because he's the biggest fighter in this sport".
He has resurrected his career impressively after minor surgery on his long-term elbow injury, which kept him out of the game for six months a year ago.
Nadal indicated that this knee problem is a flare-up of his existing issue, even though it had not been bothering him before Friday's match.
Nadal was devastated by having to pull out although he believes he hasn't suffered any long term damage.
"I saw before the match against Nadal that he's the player that had the most wins against world number ones [without ever topping the rankings himself]".
He also retired trailing in the fifth set of his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January.
"That was not a tennis match at the end".
Djokovic will be in his 23rd championship match at the majors and eighth in NY.
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Nadal's stamina and famous fitness have been put to the test on the sweltering Flushing Meadows hardcourts as he has logged almost 16 hours through five matches. Bizarrely, he warned James Keothavong midway through the second set that... This is not vintage Djokovic just yet, but he is still good enough to win at the highest level. I have tremendous respect for him as a person and a player.
The No. 1-seeded Nadal has a history of tendinitis in his knees and he said he felt a problem in the right one early in the first set.
He rose after a quick chat, shook the chair umpire's hand and then told del Potro.
But the big Argentine swept through the tiebreaker, wrapping up the opener after 69 minutes of impressive shot-making.
While leading 4-3 in the first set Nadal got his right knee taped, before later ripping it off and having it re-taped early in the second during a medical timeout in which he also had his leg massaged.
Again, a single break was all that was required for Djokovic to take the set, which he did after an hour and 40 minutes.
Del Potro won the finals in 2009, while Djokovic was the champion in 2011 and 2015.
"I didn't expect to get this kind of emotions playing tennis again".
"I waited as much as I can", he said.
If Djokovic beats Del Potro to win his 14th slam, he moves alongside Sampras and will sit three behind Nadal and six behind Federer. Mike Bryan, along with partner Jack Sock, won his record 18th doubles Grand Slam title.
He broke serve four times while an under-par Nishikori saved 13 of the 17 break points he faced and committed 51 unforced errors.