Relentless Nadal coasts into long-awaited Wimbledon quarter-final

Tanya Simon
July 12, 2018

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal outlasted Juan Martin del Potro in a crowd-pleasing five-set duel to reach his first Wimbledon semifinal since 2011.

In a match suspended from Monday night due to darkness with the Argentine star two sets to one ahead, Del Potro sealed victory on a fifth match point after nearly four and a half hours of action on Court Two.

Del Potro trailed 1-3 but at 5-5 he fired down a swinging ace to reach match point number five and this time Simon cracked, netting a backhand to the relief of the Argetine who roared his approval. A former champion saved more strength for the final set, breaking del Potro in game five and saving two break points in the following game to move 4-2 up and cement his break.

Del Potro repelled them both but Rafa held at 15 in the following game, clinching the set 6-4 and sending this fantastic encounter into a decider.

But Del Potro ended the match flat on his face, the latest in a succession of slips, and Nadal explained that the conditions underfoot were to blame.

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In one of the best games of the tournament, Rafa saved three break points in game eight to stay in front and he sealed the deal with a hold in game 10, setting the blockbuster semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic on Friday.

"I think it was great quality tennis and in the final set there were some awesome points", said 2008 and 2010 champion Nadal.

The deciding fifth set was a tight battle, but in the fifth game, Nadal got the solitary break to lead 3-2.

A single break of serve was all Nadal required in the opening set and he broke twice in the second. Del Potro, who sprayed his once pained wrist with a powder on most changeovers, had new shoes brought to him after the seventh game of the fourth set.

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. Raonic hit 31 aces to Isner's 25 but was broken three times, including in the last game of the match.

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