Juan Martin del Potro is looking forward to a second crack at a Grand Slam semifinal, a second chance to prove he is ready to win at that stage.
By early Thursday evening, he knew he'd get that opportunity at the U.S. Open, thanks to a wind-swept 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 quarterfinal victory over 16th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia.
What the sixth-seeded del Potro still did not know by the end of the night, however, as rain washed over Flushing Meadows: The opponent he will have to beat to reach his first Grand Slam final.
That's because the quarterfinal between six-time major champion Rafael Nadal and 2007 Australian Open runner-up Fernando Gonzalez was postponed by showers during the second set.
The first rain delay, of about 75 minutes, came at 2-2 in the second set, after Nadal won the opening set in a tiebreaker. The second interruption came at about 10:20 p.m., with Nadal holding a 3-2 lead in the second-set tiebreaker, the Associated Press reported.
It was also reported, on Thursday, Cilic lost to Juan Martín del Potro, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1, at the United States Open.
Cilic may even look for advice from del Potro, whose meteoric rise the last couple of years has made him a dark-horse contender at every tournament he plays. Del Potro capitalized on the progress he made during his memorable 2008 season to make the quarterfinals in three of the last four Grand Slams.
“When you fight until the final, you have many opportunities to win, and that’s what I did today,” del Potro said on the court after his victory.
Del Potro is bound for a semifinal matchup with either third-seeded Rafael Nadal or 11th-seeded Fernando González, whose quarterfinal was postponed in the middle of the second-set tie breaker Thursday because of rain and was scheduled to resume in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday, not before at 2 p.m. The match was scheduled to be played between the two women’s semifinals, but it could be moved to Louis Armstrong Stadium despending on the weather.
Nadal won the first set, 7-6 (4), and led the second-set tie breaker, 3-2, with González about to serve when rain came for the second time, the New York Times reports.
FOXSports.com quoted Cilic as saying, "I would say it was a different match because, with Andy, he doesn't have as much power as del Potro, and it was a little bit hotter that day and the ball was going through the court more and jumping up much more. So I didn't need to force so much. Today, you really needed to hit the ball to be able to get in some good positions."
Cilic did that for a while, but the Argentine is a steely eyed competitor who does not panic and does not flinch. He started to get his rhythm and find his spots to leave Cilic lunging for balls even with his considerable reach. The Croat felt the greater power of the del Potro return on his racket and began missing lines he had been hitting with deadly accuracy in the first set.
The longer the match went on, the tighter del Potro turned the screw and, by the start of the third set, he was in total command, FOXSports.com reports.