Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Sports | By Brooke Harris

Juan Martin Del Potro scraps past Simon to set up Nadal clash

Juan Martin Del Potro scraps past Simon to set up Nadal clash

A potential route to the final consists of Juan Martin Del Potro then Novak Djokovic, although there is an omen in Nadal always making the last two here once getting to the quarters.

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

Del Potro looked flat as he was broken to trail 3-1 but he clawed his way back to lead 5-4 with his serve to come.

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.

Nadal, 32, bounced about like the long-haired teenager in the sleeveless top who first played here 15 years ago, as hungry for a third Wimbledon title as he was for his 11th at Roland Garros a month ago.

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It was not as if Nadal was playing badly as he had lost only nine points on serve before heading into the ninth game of the second set.

Nadal could have gone up two sets to none after leading 6-3 in the tiebreaker.

"In the last set there was a little of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting insane with his forehands".

It was Del Potro who held sway early in the third, building a 3-2 lead.

At 1-all in the fifth, del Potro jumped to his right, rolling along the turf and losing his racket, for a volley victor, and then celebrated by raising both arms. He stepped on the short wall and landed in the lap of a female spectator.

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Nadal slipped mid-court twice in the fifth game, but stayed upright to break with a cracking angled backhand.

That never really felt like much of a cushion, though.

Nadal soon returned the favour with a break of his own, before another hold left Del Potro rattled.

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

"Rafa is a fighter".

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"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. In the next game, Nadal staved off two break points, the first when he used his never-give-up-on-a-ball defence to stretch a point and del Potro pushed a forehand way long. "Also, he has a fantastic game".

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