London - Novak Djokovic defeated Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2),
6-7 (6/8), 6-3 on Friday in the longest Wimbledon semi-final in history
to move into his 11th Grand Slam title match.
In a titanic
struggle played out over four hours and 43 minutes, world number one
Djokovic squandered two match points in the fourth set tiebreak before
going on to seal a final clash against either British second seed Andy
Murray, the runner-up last year, or 24th seeded Pole Jerzy Janowicz.
top-seeded Serb, bidding for a seventh Grand Slam crown, fired 22 aces
and 80 winners against the luckless Del Potro, the 2009 US Open
"It was one of the best matches I've been part of,
certainly one of the most exciting. It was so close and nothing could
separate us," said Djokovic.
"But that's why he is a Grand Slam champion, every time he was in a tough situation he comes up with unbelievable shots.
very proud to go through. When I lost the fourth set of course it was
disappointing because I was close to winning and didn't capitalise. He
came up with some big forehands. It was a very high level of tennis.
"I was ready to go five sets. I was able to stay tough and get through in the end."
Del Potro said he had played his best match on a grass court.
was so close. I played really good tennis for four and a half hours but
he hits the ball so hard. I am sad because I lost," said Del Potro.
"It was just a couple of points, it was my best tennis on grass but against the world number one it's not enough.
"Novak runs like he's playing on a clay court or hard court. Always the ball comes back. He deserved to win."
Potro, who had defeated the Serb for the Olympic bronze medal at
Wimbledon last year, matched Djokovic blow for blow in the first set but
had to bat back a break point in the sixth game to stay on level terms.
6-5, Djokovic stepped it up, a backhand from off his toes landing in
the corner before a backhand off-balance from the Argentine sailed long.
Serb, playing in his fourth successive Wimbledon semi-final, sensed
blood and a wide forehand from the suddenly besieged Del Potro gave the
world number one the opener.
Del Potro called for the doctor after
slipping down 3-2 in the second set, but the consultation didn't remedy
his problems against the top seed as he immediately had to fend off
four break points.
However, buoyed by his defiance, Del Potro
broke for a 4-3 edge, the second point of the game clinched by chasing
down a Djokovic drop shot which he dinked over cross-court.
Potro just about backed it up for 5-3 before he went on to level the
tie, a picture-perfect drop shot followed by an unreturned serve.
It was the first set that the Serb had dropped in the tournament.
fought off a break point in the fifth game of the third set and two
more in the seventh before the Argentine had to save three set points in
the 12th, the last courtesy of a 90mph winner.
through the tiebreak with Del Potro's confidence and challenge shattered
in an instant when the 6ft 6in (1.98m) giant netted an easy smash on
the sixth point.
Del Potro was beginning to wilt in the 26-degree
heat and Djokovic took advantage, breaking for 4-3 as another fierce
return landed on the Argentine's toes.
However, Del Potro brought
the crowd to their feet by breaking back for 4-4 and saving two match
points in the breaker, the first at the end of a punishing 24-stroke
In the decider, Djokovic fought off a break point in the fifth game before Del Potro saved one in the sixth.
Argentine cracked to trail 3-5, Djokovic saved another break point as
he served for the match in the ninth game before he claimed his epic win
with a huge forehand.
Wimbledon results on Friday, the 11th day of the 2013 tournament (x denotes seeded player):
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Juan Martn Del Potro (ARG x8) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (6/8), 6-3
Andy Murray (GBR x2) bt Jerzy Janowicz (POL x24) 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
Hsieh Su-Wei/Shuai Peng (TPE/CHN x8) bt Shuko Aoyama/Chanelle Scheepers (JPN/RSA) 6-4, 6-3
Ashleigh Barty/Casey Dellacqua (AUS/AUS x12) bt Anna-Lena Groenfeld/Kveta Peschke (GER/CZE x7) 7-6 (8/6), 6-2
Daniel Nestor/Kristina Mladenovic (CAN/FRA x8) bt Nenad Zimonjic/Katarina Srebotnik (SRB/SLO x3) 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 11-9
Bruno Soares/Lisa Raymond (BRA/USA x1) bt Jean-Julien Rojer/Vera Dushevina (NED/RUS) 6-4, 6-4