Nadal defeats Del Potro in five sets to reach Wimbledon final four

Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro in action during the fourth round match against France's Gilles Simon. Toby Melville Reuters

Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro in action during the fourth round match against France's Gilles Simon. Toby Melville Reuters

"I urge all South Africans to support this great ambassador of our country.

I wanted to stay there for all night long", Del Potro said.

Then they walked to the sideline together, arms draped across each other's shoulders.

Nadal had not lost a set prior to his first quarterfinal at the All England Club since 2011, but was taken the distance in an epic encounter between two warriors of the game.

It was a great moment to finish a match Andy Murray in commentary called the best of the tournament so far.

The French Open champion will next face Novak Djokovic in a clash of two former champions following the Serbian's success over Kei Nishikori earlier on Wednesday.

Nadal and Djokovic will be meeting for the 52nd time in their career, with Djokovic leading their head-to-head 26-25.

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

"In the last set there was a little of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting insane with his forehands".

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The crowd were on their feet when Del Potro took off to end a magnificent point with a diving volley in a marathon third game, yet Nadal got the break with a sublime cross-court victor in the next service game.

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.

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

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

After Nadal squandered four set points in the third set tiebreak, with a double fault on one of them, Del Potro made him pay as he pounced on his first chance to raise the prospect of another astonishing upset on day nine of the championships.

Del Potro put both hands on his head. If you go out there with doubts or unsure what's going to happen, it's not going to go your way.

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

Soon enough, del Potro was down on his belly after one last slip, as Nadal finished off the victory with a volley. He picked himself up and dusted himself down to play on for another eight games, but it was a different story an hour later when there was nothing left to fight for. "Also, he has a fantastic game".

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