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History on the line for Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open

Evolving from the king of clay to grass master and Olympic gold medalist, a U.S. Open championship for Rafael Nadal would be one of the greatest seasons in tennis history.

Updated: September 5, 2008, 10:16 PM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Standing just behind the baseline, where he makes his living, Rafael Nadal screamed and threw a few savage uppercuts.

It was early Thursday morning and his emphatic victory over Mardy Fish had just taken him to a new place -- the semifinals of the U.S. Open. In this season of mounting astonishment, what else is new?

"I think I'm with very special motivation," Nadal said afterward. "For sure, you want to play good in all places, no?

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