July 12, 2018
Rafael Nadal’s epic victory over Juan Martin del Potro has set up a mouthwatering semi-final against Novak Djokovic.
And the winner of that match will be heavy favourite to win Wimbledon itself.
Nadal triumphed 7-5, 6-7 (7-9), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in a genuine classic late on Wednesday evening.
Poor Del Potro lay distraught on the Centre Court grass when all was said and done, wondering how he had let his winning position slip away after nearly five hours of intense sporting combat.
Nadal sportingly crossed over to his opponent’s side of the court, and pulled the South American giant back up, offering him comforting words of consolation.
Former British favourite Tim Henman claimed that fifth set was one of the best he had ever seen, and the scoreline hadn’t done justice to the power and craft on display.
Del Potro has a habit of being part of memorable matches here. His semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic a few years ago is widely regarded as one of the greatest matches ever seen at Wimbledon.
He took so much out of Novak during their clash, that Andy Murray was subsequently able to win his first Wimbledon title.
So has Del Potro taken so much out of Nadal that it might be Novak’s turn to take advantage this time around?
It is possible. Djokovic will be the better rested after his relatively comfortable win, albeit in four sets, over Kei Nishikori.
Nadal knows only too well that he will need all his powers of recovery to be ready to take on the dangerous Djokovic in what promises to be another nail-biting contest.
So who will emerge as winner? Will the power and aggression of Nadal be enough to subdue the craft and defensive defiance of Djokovic?
It could be another five-setter. And if so, you might expect Djokovic to edge it. That’s why Rafa will be looking to blast the Serb out of there more quickly than that.
Who will await Novak or Rafa in the final? Either Kevin Anderson, after his incredible victory over the great Roger Federer, or John Isner, who beat Milos Raonic 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, 6-3.
That semi-final will be the battle of the big servers, with neither man able to boast any experience of a Wimbledon final before. So Sunday’s showpiece will involve a match-up never seen before in the final, whatever happens.
Before that, we can look forward to Friday in particular. It doesn’t get much better than Rafa v Novak in a massive match at Wimbledon.
Let’s savour the occasion and enjoy every moment!