Nadal beats Del Potro in five-set thriller
Rafael Nadal will face Novak Djokovic in a mouthwatering Wimbledon semi-final after beating Juan Martin del Potro in a Centre Court classic.
Nadal was a set away from crashing out only a matter of hours after defending champion and favourite Roger Federer had suffered a stunning defeat against Kevin Anderson.
The 17-time grand slam champion was not to be denied a place in the last four, though, coming through a monumental battle with the fifth seed to win 7-5 6-7 (7-9) 4-6 6-4 6-4 in four hours and 47 minutes.
Nadal had not lost a set prior to his first quarter-final at the All England Club since 2011, but was taken the distance in an epic encounter between two warriors of the game.
The second seed, eyeing a third Wimbledon title, with his last triumph at SW19 coming eight years ago, struck 66 winners compared to 77 from Del Potro, who fired down 33 aces in a contest that ebbed and flowed throughout.
Del Potro suffered more heartbreak after losing to Nadal in the semi-finals at Roland Garros last month, his 52 unforced errors proving to be costly as the Spaniard claimed the only break in a pulsating final set.
The victor and the vanquished. Sportsmanship at its finest.— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 11, 2018
After four hours and 47 minutes of pure theatre, @RafaelNadal shares a touching embrace with Juan Martin del Potro #Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/TykAQAPReH