Nadal survives thriller to down Del Potro in quarter-finals

Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the fourth round match against Czech Republic's Jiri Vesely. Tony O'Brien Reuters

Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the fourth round match against Czech Republic's Jiri Vesely. Tony O'Brien Reuters

Juan Martin del Potro set up a Wimbledon quarter-final clash against Rafael Nadal when he downed Gilles Simon of France 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 7-6 (7/5) on Tuesday.

Del Potro refused to surrender, breaking back in game 10 to level the score at 5-5 and he saved four set points in the tie break, climbing back from 3-6 down to steal the set 9-7 and make a huge roar of relief, ready to fight until the very last point. Del Potro, however, opening his shoulders with his feared forehand and blasting a victor that left Nadal gasping on the baseline - and a set down just short of three hours.

The supporter seemed pretty delighted to be so up close and personal with one of the greatest players of all time, who went on to win a dramatic five-setter 7-5 6-7 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a match lasting the best part of five hours. 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. He must get past three-time champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Friday for another shot at the title.

"It was a very emotional match. great quality tennis, especially in the last set there were some wonderful points".

There was just the one break point in the opening set and it proved to be decisive, the unseeded Vesely gifting Nadal a 3-1 lead with a costly double fault.

Del Potro too noted the change in conditions but appeared to relish the chance to slide around a bit more on the grass.

On this occasion, the world No 1 had trailed two sets to one after a super serving performance in the third and fourth sets by Del Potro.

"Rafa is a fighter". 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.

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.

Isner has yet to be broken at this year's tournament and saved the only break point he faced on Wednesday.

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