Wimbledon 2018 semifinals: Rafa Nadal-Novak Djokovic, John Isner-Kevin Anderson

Wimbledon 2018 semifinals: Rafa Nadal-Novak Djokovic, John Isner-Kevin Anderson

Wimbledon 2018 semifinals: Rafa Nadal-Novak Djokovic, John Isner-Kevin Anderson

On Wednesday, we saw Nadal's confidence, and even his intensity, briefly wane when Juan Martin del Potro forced his way into their quarterfinal late in the second set.

In one epic 14-point game early in the deciding set, such was the desperation of both combatants that del Potro twice left the ground trying to retrieve balls at the net before Nadal went hurtling over a barrier, into the stands and onto jaw-dropping spectators' laps.

A deft lob helped Nadal take the first game of the second set, before each player held serve. "It's a big chance for me to face Rafa tomorrow". He played well. I believe I increased a little bit the level in the fourth and the fifth.

'Obviously at the end of this day, analyse things that I've done right, that maybe need some improvement, focus on the next day's practice session, recovery. Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer was knocked out in the quarter-finals by an inspired Kevin Anderson, who came back from two sets down and a match point down to send the no. 1 seed packing.

The 32-year old Anderson defeated defending champion Federer in a five-set thriller that lasted slightly more than four hours.

Like Federer and Anderson, Nadal and del Potro Nadal slugged it out for more than four pulsating hours before Spain's 17-times major victor finally landed the knockout punch.

While Nadal's rivalry with Roger Federer may be considered as the most engaging, it is the Spaniard's rivalry with Djokovic which is the most enduring.

The pair have met on 51 occasions in the past - with Djokovic narrowly leading their head-to-head by one win - though this is just their fourth encounter on a grass court. I have only lost one match since then.

"Sometimes you play your best tennis and it's not enough to beat him", said the teary-eyed Argentine, who has had the misfortune of running into Nadal at the French Open and Wimbledon championships over the past five weeks.

"Then I think all the things that happened in that final was much more dramatic than this one".

The grand slam heavyweights will square off for a record 52nd time on Friday night, but first time at a major since the 2016 French Open quarter-finals. "You know you can't win against him if you don't play very well", he said.

"I think it was great quality tennis, the final set was there were some unbelievable points. But Rafa came to me and we made a big hug, and it was kind of him", said Del Potro. So far the four matches have been really, really good for me'. Nadal, meanwhile, was hit by recurring wrist problems as well as back injuries, appendicitis, and most recently a hip issue, as his form plummeted.

"We have always considered him an ambassador and he continues to wave the flag. Physically I've felt awesome".

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