Nadal edges del Potro in 5-set Wimbledon thriller

Nadal edges del Potro in 5-set Wimbledon thriller

Soon, Nadal gained the upper hand, shaking off a hard fall onto his back on one point by whipping a cross-court backhand victor on the next to break for a 3-2 lead.

For Del Potro, who dived, tumbled and slipped as he tried to contain the two-time Wimbledon champion it was an 11th defeat in 16 meetings with the Spaniard.

For all that Nadal plays tennis as if he had just disturbed a burglar making off with his 17 grand slam trophies, he prefers victory by stealth, sapping opponents of the will to chase.

A set littered with one lengthy rally after another, eventually went to Nadal on serve, finally giving him the match.

After two-and-a-half hours, Nadal had soaked up 19 Del Potro aces and they were still a set-all and three-all, the Argentinian ahead in the serving cycle again and doing his best to grind Nadal into the grass.

Del Potro looked flat as he was broken to trail 3-1 but he clawed his way back to lead 5-4 with his serve to come.

The Spaniard will face Novak Djokovic in the last four for a chance to meet either John Isner or Kevin Anderson in the final.

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In the next game, Nadal staved off two break points, the first when he used his never-give-up-on-a-ball defense to stretch a point and del Potro pushed a forehand way long.

"The last set had a little bit of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting insane with his forehands".

Then, at 4-3, they played an epic 18-point game that featured six deuces and another trio of break points for del Potro, none of which he managed to convert. "In some ways he deserves to go through too".

That mishap could not stop Nadal from reaching his sixth Wimbledon semi-final and he celebrated the moment by raising both arms up into the skies after four hours and 48 minutes of thrilling action.

Nadal soon returned the favour with a break of his own, before another hold left Del Potro rattled.

There was a look of glee in Del Potro's sometimes sad eyes, and his lumbering between-points walk had a bit more energy to it. Nadal, struggling to get a solid second serve into hard areas, was de-fanged for long stretches.

Nadal caught Del Potro napping in the fifth game of the fourth set, breaking him to love to lead 3-2.

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