Nadal fights past Del Porto, Novak next

Second-seeded Rafa Nadal won a very tight five-setter against Juan Martin Del Potro to set up a mouth-watering Wimbledon semi-final with Novak Djokovic.

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Nadal fought back, from two sets to one down, to somehow defeat fifth seed Del Potro, who served 33 aces, 7-5, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in four hours and 52 minutes — the longest match of this year’s tournament.

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

Nadal got the first set, which consisted of long, close rallies, thanks to the only break in the 12th game to claim the opener 7-5.

In the next set, Del Potro broke and served for the set at 5-4, but double-faulted and Nadal clinched the break-back with a forehand winner down the line for the second set to be decided by a tiebreaker.

Del Potro, saved four set points and grabbed one of his own on Nadal’s serve and levelled at a set apiece, winning the breaker 9-7.

After two-and-a-half hours, Nadal and Del Potro were still a set-all and three-all. There were no service breaks until the tenth game where Del Porto beat Nadal with a forehand winner to get the service break and set, 6-4.

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

The Spaniard held for 5-3, and a bit later a forehand winner gave him the set 6-4 to force a decider.

The deciding fifth set was a tight battle, but in the fifth game, Nadal got the solitary break to lead 3-2.

Del Potro let two break-back points slip in the sixth game and then forced Nadal to save three more breaks for 5-3.

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.

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