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Five-Set Frenzy At Wimbledon: Federer Falls To Anderson, Nadal Outlasts Del Potro

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after beating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in their quarter final match at the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 11 July 2018  EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL



Manic Monday: Federer rolls, but Nadal and Djokovic have just about perfect days


By Ricky Dimon


A memorable day at Wimbledon saw only one of the top two players in the world advanced to the semifinals at the end of a combined 10 sets of tennis.


Following Roger Federer’s 2-6, 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 quarterfinal loss to Kevin Anderson, Rafael Nadal won an epic contest against Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Nadal persevered through one of the most dramatic matches and certainly the highest-quality match of the fortnight after four hours and 47 minutes of competition.


But first it was Federer’s turn to take center stage–actually it was Court 1, not Centre Court, to be completely accurate. The 36-year-old Swiss started just fine in a somewhat unfamiliar setting, and even came within one point of a straight-set win. But Anderson snuffed out a match point while serving at 4-5, ad-out in the third. The 6’8” South African ended up stealing the set in a tiebreaker and never looked back.


A break at 11-11 in the fifth proved to be decisive for Anderson’s improbable comeback and upset.


“I felt the first set obviously wasn’t great for me,” the No. 8 seed admitted. “I was a little bit unsettled starting the match out. I thought I settled down much better in the second set. Even though I lost it in a tiebreak, I felt I played a much, much better set of tennis.


“In the third set, I just tried to compete as hard as I could. I was able to hold serve throughout. Obviously he had that one match point, but I played a good point and was able to get that break. I feel like once I did that, I really settled down well and felt pretty comfortable out there.”


“I guess there was definitely a moment [where I lost control of the match] at some point,” Federer lamented “Is it missing match points? Is it getting broken at 5-all after that? I’m not sure…. There’s a lot of little points here and there that always make a difference in the outcome of a match. I don’t think this one naturally you can pinpoint exactly, except my match point.”


Del Potro never had a match point, but he came every bit as close to reaching the semifinals as Federer. The Argentine threw everything he had at Nadal, rifling off an amazing 77 winners–including 33 aces. But it was not enough, because the world No. 1 was every bit as good as his distinction of two-time Wimbledon champion suggests. He fired 66 winners of his own compared to 34 unforced errors, while Del Potro’s winners-to-errors ratio (plus-25) was almost as impressive.


After falling into a two sets to one deficit, Nadal used one break in each of the last two sets to cement his comeback. Although he consolidated his fourth-set lead without much trouble while facing zero break points, the second sed endured a much tougher time getting across the finish line in the fifth. Del Potro did not to go away quietly, sledgehammering massive forehands to earn two break points with Nadal serving at 3-2 and three more at 4-3. Nonetheless, Nadal steadied the ship time and time again when it mattered most to produce clutch service hold after clutch service hold.


A hold to 30 at 5-4 finally ended it for the second seed, who clinched victory with a backhand volley that left Del Potro sprawled on the lawn.


“I am very happy the way that I survived a lot of important points in that fifth set,” said Nadal. “I think I did a lot of things well. I went to the net. In general terms, [it was] a positive match. Only negative thing is I played almost five hours, and I had the chance maybe to play less [if I had won] that second set.”


“Once Rafa breaks my serves, then the match becomes difficult for me,” Del Potro reflected. “I had also my chances to break back in the fifth, and I missed some forehands. I think the key of the match was only three, four points in the end, and he took the chances.


“I think I played really good tennis today, but Rafa is Rafa, you know. Sometimes you play your best tennis and it’s not enough to beat him. But I’m glad with my tournament. Physically I’m okay. That gives me confidence to keep going in the future.”


Nadal’s future includes a semifinal showdown with Novak Djokovic on Friday. while Anderson awaits a far more surprising semifinal against John Isner.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.


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