Nadal holds his nerve to see off ‘amazing’ Del Potro
World number one Rafael Nadal set-up a mouthwatering Wimbledon semi-final against old rival Novak Djokovic after battling back to beat Juan Martin del Potro in a Centre Court thriller on Wednesday.
Nadal triumphed 7-5, 6-7 (7/9), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 after four hours and 48 minutes to reach his sixth Wimbledon semi-final and 28th at the majors.
The two-time Wimbledon champion will face Djokovic, a threetime winner at the All England Club, for a place in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic leads their epic headto-head rivalry 26-25.
Victory on Wednesday gave Nadal his 11th win in 16 meetings against the fifth seed Del Potro as the Spaniard stayed on course for an 18th Grand Slam title.
That ambition came a little closer after defending champion Roger Federer was knocked out by Kevin Anderson earlier in the day.
“I think it was great quality tennis and in the final set there were some amazing points,” said 2008 and 2010 champion Nadal.
“Sorry to Juan Martin, he’s an amazing opponent and player. In some ways he deserves to win.”
“Anything could have happened, so this is a big achievement for me to get to the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
“In the last set there was a little of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting crazy with his forehands. I tried to resist and maintain focus.
“Now is the moment to enjoy and then start to recover as it was a tough physical battle.”
John Isner will face Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon semifinals after the American ninth seed won the battle of the big servers against Milos Raonic on Wednesday.
Isner’s 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 6-3 victory in the quarter-finals booked his first appearance in the last four at a Grand Slam.
On Friday, the 33-year-old will play South African eighth seed Anderson, who shocked defending champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals earlier on Wednesday.
Isner holds an impressive 8-3 record against Anderson, winning his last five meetings with the 32-year-old.
Isner famously played in Wimbledon’s longest ever match against Nicolas Mahut in 2010, and in his 41st Grand Slam appearance, the American is finally into the last four at a major.
Number one: Rafa Nadal.