Del Potro repelled them both but Rafa held at 15 in the following game, clinching the set 6-4 and sending this fantastic encounter into a decider. I tried to resist and maintain focus.
"Rafa is a fighter and he has a fantastic game".
"I was close to beating him and I couldn´t because Rafa always has a little bit more than the rest of the players on tour".
Then, at 4-3, they played an epic 18-point game that featured six deuces and another trio of break points for del Potro, none of which he managed to convert. The set stayed on serve until Del Potro secured the first break point for a 4-3 lead.
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.
"Emotional match for both of us", said Nadal, who is ranked No. 1 and seeded No. 2 and won two of his 17 major championships at Wimbledon.
After two-and-a-half hours, Nadal had soaked up 19 Del Potro aces and they were still a set-all and three-all, the Argentinian ahead in the serving cycle again and doing his best to grind Nadal into the grass. "In some ways he deserves to win as well", said Nadal after the breath-taking quarter-final. I wanted to stay there for all night long.
Del Potro, who'd saved four set points, grabbed one of his own on Nadal's serve and levelled at a set apiece with a forehand that clipped the net and fell inside the service box.
It was not as if Nadal was playing badly as he had lost only nine points on serve before heading into the ninth game of the second set.But just before that game started, Federer's shock demise was flashed up on the giant on-court scoreboard and it was as if that threw the Spaniard off his stride and he fluffed his lines to drop his serve.
That mishap could not stop Nadal from reaching his sixth Wimbledon semi-final and he celebrated the moment by raising both arms up into the skies after four hours and 48 minutes of thrilling action.
One such chase left Nadal toppling into the arms of a stunned woman sitting in the front row as he failed to put on the breaks as he dashed after a Del Potro smash.