- After a curfew brought a premature end to play on an astonishing Friday at Wimbledon, Nadal needed to claim the fourth set on resuming to keep his title hopes alive.
Having reclaimed his brilliant best to deny Rafael Nadal in another epic Wimbledon semi-final, Novak Djokovic will play Kevin Anderson for the crown tomorrow.
The former world No. 1 reached his first grand slam final since the 2016 US Open when edging Nadal 6-4 3-6 7-6 (9) 3-6 10-8 in a semi-final resuming today.
He will now play the South African, who is resting today after enthralling five-set wins over Roger Federer and John Isner over the past two rounds, that latter a record-breaker for its length.
After a curfew brought a premature end to play on an astonishing Friday at Wimbledon, Nadal needed to claim the fourth set on resuming to keep his title hopes alive.
Novak Djokovic beats Rafa Nadal 10-8 in fifth set of their semi-final epic | Wimbledon 2018
Having fought through the first game, Nadal was able to seize the initiative when breaking serve in the following game.
A tentative game at 3-1, though, relinquished this advantage. The Spaniard failed to punch a volley at 15-all, which set the tone for the game.
Two crisply struck backhands at 4-3 — one an approach to the Djokovic backhand and the other a clubbed return — gave Nadal two break points and when Djokovic netted a relatively straight forward passing shot, he held an opportunity to serve out the set.
Rafael Nadal leaves Centre Court
That miss sparked a tantrum in the Serbian, who thumped his shoe four times in anger with his racquet.
The 17-time grand slam champion looked set to gift the break straight back when slipping to 0-40, but rallied to close it out with an ace.
The decider progressed in regulation fashion until Nadal’s service game at 3-4, where Djokovic was able to bring up a break point in an errant game from the Spaniard.
But the opportunity when begging for the 12-time grand slam title winner when netting a forehand return.
His confidence dented, the right-handed then missed two forehands in succession on his own serve to give Nadal break points but managed to save both with precision.
The pressure each faced kept seesawing. But again the 11-time French Open champion was able to serve his way out of trouble.
At 7-all, a cheap backhand error and then double-fault again found the Serbian facing two break points. Those, he saved.
A forehand from Nadal, initially called out, was found to clip the very back of the baseline. But again the former world No. 1 responded when nailing a forehand passing shot.
It was a remarkable game resplendent with spectacular shot-making. But as the match ticked into a fifth hour, Djokovic edged ahead again.
And when Nadal missed a backhand down the line in the following game, he held a match point.
The quality of the point the Spaniard played to keep his title hopes alive was breathtaking and courageous, with Nadal weighting a perfect drop shot that clipped the line.
But at 8-9, Nadal wilted. After slipping over at 0-30, there was to be no reprieve this time for the 17-time major winner.