Del Potro celebrates win over third seed Roger Federer at US Open/File Photo: Reuters

Defending champion Rafael Nadal has crashed out of this year’s US Open after retiring from Friday’s semi-final clash with Juan Martin del Potro because of knee problem.

As a result, the Argentine third seed, who was leading 7-6 (7-3) 6-2, will compete in his first Grand Slam final for nine years.

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Nadal pulls out of US Open semis due to knee injury problem (photo credit: EPA)

The Spaniard, 32, had called for medical assistance twice before pulling out of the game.

“It was difficult for me to keep playing. I was in too much pain and it was not a tennis match,” said Nadal.

“It was one player playing and one on the other side of the court.

“I hate retiring but to stay one more set out there playing like that is too much for me.”

Del Potro, 29, last competed in a Grand Slam final when he won at Flushing Meadows in 2009.