Nadal defeats Del Potro in five sets to reach Wimbledon final four

Rafael Nadal vs Jiri Vesely Wimbledon 2018 live score updates

Nadal will face either Argentina's fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro or Frenchman Gilles Simon in the quarter-finals.

"I wanted to stay there", del Potro said afterward, "all night long".

Del Potro was in danger of being dragged into a fifth set when he squandered four match points, one with a double-fault, at 5-4 having hit back from 1-3 down. 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.

The two-time victor will meet Novak Djokovic in the last four on Friday.

The Spaniard, eyeing back-to-back major titles following his 11th French Open triumph, conceded only two points behind his serve in an opening set which he served out easily.

"The last set had a little bit of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting insane with his forehands". Both players have settled into a nice rhythm in the opening set and it was Nadal who kept a high level in the entire set, serving at 75% and losing only eight points on serve, avoiding deuces or tie breaks to keep the pressure on Delpo.

More news: Djokovic upbeat over improving form at Wimbledon

After del Potro also took the third, repeatedly taking points with his thunderclap of a forehand, Nadal knew he needed to make some adjustments. He stepped on the short wall and landed in the lap of a female spectator. Del Potro made him pay as he pounced on his first chance to raise the prospect of another upset on day nine. Del Potro let two break-back points slip in the sixth game and, although his cause looked doomed, he forced Nadal to save three times for 5-3.

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.

"In the end the court was a little bit slippery because the sun goes out and it was humid on the grass", Del Potro added.

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.

The dogfight Nadal feared and Del Potro knew was his only route to the semi-finals had begun in earnest.

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