“After almost five hours, I fell down. I wanted to stay there for all night long. But Rafa came to me and we made a big hug, and it was kind of him”
By Raz Mirza at Wimbledon
Last Updated: 12/07/18 2:01pm
Juan Martin del Potro (right) and Rafael Nadal embrace following their epic quarter-final
Juan Martin del Potro paid his respects to Rafael Nadal after suffering defeat in a mammoth quarter-final clash at Wimbledon on Wednesday.
Nadal resisted the big heart and forehand of Del Potro in a classic to set up what could be another match to savour in the semi-finals against Novak Djokovic.
The world No 1 was forced to come from behind before withstanding a supreme effort from his opponent in the
fifth. He eventually he clinched a 7-5 6-7 (7-9) 4-6 6-4 6-4 victory after four hours and 47 minutes.
Del Potro ended the match flat on the grass as Nadal held his arms aloft, before clambering over the net for a consoling, and exhausted, hug.
For the former US Open champion, who dived, tumbled and slipped as he tried to contain the two-time Wimbledon champion it was an 11th defeat in 16 meetings with the Spaniard. It also followed a semi-final defeat to Nadal at the French Open last month where he won just seven games.
“I didn’t want to finish the match like that,” said Del Potro, who hit 77 winners. “After almost five hours, I fell down. I wanted to stay there for all night long. But Rafa came to me and we made a big hug, and it was kind of him.
“The crowd at the end was amazing. I think I played really good tennis today. But Rafa is Rafa. Sometimes you play your best tennis and it’s not enough to beat him. But I’m glad with my tournament. Physically I’m OK. That gives me confidence to keep going in the future.”
Nadal is now two wins from an 18th Grand Slam title although he felt the one negative was having to play for close to five hours, but was happy to have survived an epic encounter.
“Of course I was worried when I lost the second set,” Nadal said. “It’s true that he played two great points with his serve, but that double fault was a big mistake.
Great match, an emotional match for both of us and for the fans, too. Great feelings.
“Then the match changed. He played well. I believe I increased a little bit the level in the fourth and the fifth. But the fifth, he was playing huge. It was so difficult to stop him.
“I am very happy the way that I survived a lot of important points in that fifth set. I think I did a lot of things well. The 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, an emotional match for both of us and for the fans, too. Great feelings.”
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