After a grueling match that lasted almost five hours, Juan Martin Del Potro lay on the grass at centre court, exhausted by his efforts while Rafael Nadal crossed over the net to help up his vanquished opponent and offer a warm embrace.
This was sport at its best – a battle but when the whistle sounds, a sheathing of swords and a handshake. The spectators at Wimbledon’s centre court rose as one to acknowledge what they had witnessed and truly tennis was the winner even though it was Nadal that triumphed 7-5 6-7 4-6 6-4 6-4.
At the post-match interview, the world No.1 said the only thing he could have done better would have been to spend less time on the court.
“I am very happy the way that I survived a lot of important points in that fifth set,” Nadal stated.
“I think I did a lot of things well. I went to the net. In general, terms, have been a positive match. Only negative thing is I played almost five hours, and I had the chance maybe to play less winning that second set.
“For the rest of the things, great news, semi-finals of Wimbledon again. Great match, emotional match for both of us and for the fans, too. Great feelings.”
Up next is a familiar foe, Novak Djokovic, who beat Kei Nishikori in four sets to make it an eighth trip to the semifinal at SW9. Djokovic lost to Nadal in the French Open semifinal earlier in the year and the stage is set for a quick rebut as he holds a 26-25 head-to-head advantage over the left-hander.
And he is feeling very well after an elbow surgery to believe he can go all the way. “I feel [that] if I have to compare the game that I’ve played, the level of tennis that I’ve had those years and today, I think it’s pretty close,” Djokovic explained to the ATP official website.
“I like the level of tennis that I’m playing right now. I really do. I think with the performances I’ve had, I deserve to be in the semi-finals. I don’t want to stop here. I hope I can get a chance to fight for a trophy.”
In the fourth quarterfinal, John Isner won the battle of the big men and heavy hitters against Milos Raonic in four sets 6-7 7-6 6-4 6-3. This victory ensured a first Grand Slam semifinal after 41 tries. The American, who stands at 6ft 10in served 31 aces in the match and has not had his serve broken at the championships.
Isner told the BBC, “Pure elation right now. Very, very happy to be in this position right now in the semi-finals. With how I’m feeling physically and mentally, I’m in a very good spot. I think I can keep doing damage here.”
Next stop is another battle against Roger Federer’s conqueror, Kevin Anderson, on Friday.