Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Wimbledon 2018 -- Juan Martin del Potro reaches quarterfinals

Wimbledon 2018 -- Juan Martin del Potro reaches quarterfinals

It was a case of down but definitely not out as a Rafael Nadal kept picking himself off a slippery and dusty Centre Court surface to storm into the Wimbledon semi-finals with a pulsating 7-5 6-7 (7) 4-6 6-4 6-4 over Juan Martin del Potro.

He did hold that pose, a mixture of full-on despair and utter exhaustion, for a bit, which felt appropriate. And so it proved in a match that got better the longer it went as he ground out a 7-5, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win in four hours and 47 minutes, the longest of the tournament.

Then they walked to the sideline together, arms draped across each other's shoulders. "And for the fans, too".

Next up for the Spaniard is a blockbuster last four showdowns with Serb Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic leads their epic head-to-head rivalry 26-25.

That came at a key moment in the third set, which was a tougher examination of Nadal than the initial two. Nadal was back to needing one game to claim the set.

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

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Del Potro, saved four set points and grabbed one of his own on Nadal's serve and levelled at a set apiece, winning the breaker 9-7.

After del Potro also took the third, repeatedly taking points with his thunderclap of a forehand, Nadal knew he needed to make some adjustments. I went to the net. He stepped on the short wall and landed in the lap of a female spectator.

Nadal maintained his typically aggressive approach and was leaping while punching the air after a blistering return whistled past Vesely to put him a break up at 3-2 in the second set.

That never really felt like much of a cushion, though.

Del Potro finished with 77 winners to Nadal's 67 but failed to convert any of his five break points in the fifth set. There were no service breaks until the tenth game where Del Porto beat Nadal with a forehand victor to get the service break and set, 6-4.

But there were flourishes to Nadal's play too, notably another hotdog shot and also a wicked forehand victor that cut across the court and dipped dramatically onto the line.

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