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Juan Martin Del Potro scraps past Simon to set up Nadal clash

Juan Martin Del Potro scraps past Simon to set up Nadal clash

Juan Martin del Potro lay sprawled face down on the slippery and dusty Centre Court turf as Nadal punched away a final backhand volley to seal a 7-5 6-7 (7) 4-6 6-4 6-4 win that took him into the semi-finals for the first time since 2011.

"I wanted to stay there", del Potro said afterward, "all night long".

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

And Nadal rued failing to take control against del Potro much earlier.

Nadal, 32, bounced about like the long-haired teenager in the sleeveless top who first played here 15 years ago, as hungry for a third Wimbledon title as he was for his 11th at Roland Garros a month ago.

Next up for the Spaniard is a blockbuster last four showdowns with Serb Novak Djokovic.

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.

Nadal could have gone up two sets to none after leading 6-3 in the tiebreaker.

"The last set had a little bit of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting insane with his forehands". I went to the net.

At 1-all in the fifth, del Potro jumped to his right, rolling along the turf and losing his racket, for a volley victor, and then celebrated by raising both arms.

Nadal started strong on serve to power his way into a 3-2 lead during the opening set.

That never really felt like much of a cushion, though.

The Argentinian saved two break points in game eight but he fell short just before the tie break, allowing Nadal to convert a break point in game 12 for a 7-5.

The dogfight Nadal feared and Del Potro knew was his only route to the semi-finals had begun in earnest.

Del Potro put both hands on his head.

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. Eventually, things went to a tiebreak Del Potro won to capture the set. "Also, he has a fantastic game".

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