Nadal survives thriller to down Del Potro in quarter-finals

Juan Martin del Potro

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.

Del Potro was straining to stay in touch in almost every point, and his gambling instincts drove him to explore the white lines.

Nadal, in the quarter-finals for the first time since finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in 2011, carved out the crucial break in the opening set for a 6-5 lead and claimed the opener off a Del Potro backhand error.

"Emotional match for both of us", said Nadal, who is ranked No. 1 and seeded No. 2 and won two of his 17 major championships at Wimbledon.

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

"Rafa is a fighter and he has a fantastic game".

Nadal ended the four hour and 48 minute thriller with a backhand volley victor past a lunging Del Potro who ended the contest lying flat on his stomach.

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The world number one had lost only nine points on serve when, just before the ninth game of the second set, the result of Federer's shock demise was flashed up on the giant on-court scoreboard. He squandered the chance to serve out the set and that looked to be costly when he trailed 4-1 in the breaker, but his rival double-faulted on one of four set points as the nerves set in.

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.

John Isner has reached his first Grand Slam semi-final on his 41st appearance.

However, Del Potro was made to pay for a sloppy game when he was serving to secure a tiebreak, netting a backhand to go a set down.

There was, however, one consolation for Del Potro who came off second best despite belting down 33 aces and producing 77 staggering winners, 10 more than Nadal.

While you were watching the World Cup semi-final last night, and before that, while you were desperately trying to get out of work to go home and watch the World Cup semi-final, there was a day for ages playing out at Wimbledon, featuring, of course, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

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