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Warrior Nadal downs Del Potro in thriller to reach semi-finals

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Rafael Nadal will face Novak Djokovic in a mouthwatering Wimbledon semifinal after beating Juan Martin del Potro in a Centre Court classic Wednesday.

While you were watching the World Cup semi-final last night, and before that, while you were desperately trying to get out of work to go home and watch the World Cup semi-final, there was a day for ages playing out at Wimbledon, featuring, of course, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

Nadal carved out the crucial break in the opening set for a 6-5 lead and claimed the opener off a Del Potro backhand error.

With world number one Rafael Nadal waiting for the victor, Tuesday's fourth set, played in much cooler conditions than the first three the day before, turned into a mini-epic before Del Potro eventually prevailed 7-6 (1) 7-6 (5) 5-7 7-6 (5).

Nadal has 17 while Djokovic has stalled on 12 since completing the career Grand Slam at Roland Garros in 2016.

The twice champion broke back but squandered four set points in the second set tiebreak, with a double fault on one of them.

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

Nadal soon returned the favour with a break of his own, before another hold left Del Potro rattled. There were no service breaks until the tenth game where Del Porto beat Nadal with a forehand victor to get the service break and set, 6-4.

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

There was a look of glee in Del Potro's sometimes sad eyes, and his lumbering between-points walk had a bit more energy to it. Nadal, struggling to get a solid second serve into hard areas, was de-fanged for long stretches. Del Potro, who sprayed his once pained wrist with a powder on most changeovers, had new shoes brought to him after the seventh game of the fourth set.

The 33-year-old Simon saved a fourth match point when he threw the kitchen sink at a forehand return and the world number 53 eventually took his fourth break point to level at 5-5. Raonic hit 31 aces to Isner's 25 but was broken three times, including the last game of the match.

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