Nadal edges del Potro in 5-set Wimbledon thriller

Dream team Five years earlier Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in 2013 in New York City

Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time since 2013 after beating Gilles Simon 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5).

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 was thrashed by the Spaniard in the French Open semi-final last month but feels his game matches up better against the world number one on grass despite losing their only two meetings on the surface.

The supporter seemed pretty delighted to be so up close and personal with one of the greatest players of all time, who went on to win a dramatic five-setter 7-5 6-7 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a match lasting the best part of five hours.

Del Potro finished with 77 winners to Nadal's 67 but failed to convert any of his five break points in the fifth set.

Now Nadal will face longtime rival Novak Djokovic in the semifinals Friday.

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"I think it was great quality tennis and in the final set there were some fantastic points", said 2008 and 2010 champion Nadal.

Victory secured, Nadal climbed over the net and ran over to the baseline to help the distraught Del Potro back to his feet.

"Rafa is a fighter", del Potro said. Del Potro broke and served for the set at 5-4, but double-faulted and Nadal clinched the break-back with a rasping forehand down the line.

Nadal maintained his typically aggressive approach and was leaping while punching the air after a blistering return whistled past Vesely to put him a break up at 3-2 in the second set. Eventually, things went to a tiebreak Del Potro won to capture the set.

That blip was enough for Nadal, chasing an 18th Grand Slam title, to surrender his first set of the championships. The hard-serving American beat Milos Raonic of Canada 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Federer's conqueror Kevin Anderson in the last four.

Isner has yet to be broken at this year's tournament and saved the only break point he faced on Wednesday.

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