Nadal edges del Potro in 5-set Wimbledon thriller

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his quarterfinal against Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro at Wimbledon at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London on Wednesday

Nadal saved three break points before an imperious forehand victor put him 5-3 up and he put away a simple volley to finally finish off Del Potro, then made his way around the net to embrace his tired opponent as he lay on the court following another tumble.

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

Del Potro finished with 77 winners to Nadal's 67 but could not convert any of his five break points in the fifth set.

Rafa Nadal now meets another old foe, Novak Djokovic, in the semi-final tomorrow. It had a little of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting insane with his forehands.

"Rafa is a fighter", del Potro said.

The fifth seed had led by two sets on Monday but Simon grabbed the third set before fading light ended play.

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.

The world number one, playing in his first All England Club quarter-final since finishing runner-up to Djokovic in 2011, then wasted four set points in the second.

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Nadal worked the angles and moved superbly from the start, but the heavy-hitting Del Potro frustrated him by saving the first two break-point opportunities of the match before holding to level at 4-4.

Del Potro put both hands on his head.

But the second seed stayed alive by taking the fourth set before the gripping drama continued in an electrifying deciding set in which both players were left diving after volleys and slipping over as they sprinted after blinding winners.

A tired Del Potro, a semi-finalist in 2013, finished with 33 aces and 77 winners but even those impressive statistics were not enough.

Nadal caught Del Potro napping in the fifth game of the fourth set, breaking him to love to lead 3-2.

Then Del Porto managed to hold serve to love, forcing Nadal to serve out the match, which he did, winning it 6-4 to reach his sixth semi-final.

"I think I won the best point of the match", the Argentine said with a rueful smile after being beaten by Nadal for the 11th time in 16 meetings.

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