Novak Djokovic reveals how he's passing the time before Rafael Nadal clash

Juan Martin del Potro

On the other side of the bracket, American John Isner will face off against South Africa's Kevin Anderson, who is coming off of a stunning five-set upset of Roger Federer that took over four hours to finish.

It was Del Potro who held sway early in the third, building a 3-2 lead.

"Rafa is a fighter", del Potro said. "He deserves to win today and keep winning", said the 29-year-old Argentine.

"I didn't think he could play at such a high level for so long".

Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time since 2013 after beating Gilles Simon 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5). Anderson finally earned the must-have, go-ahead service break with the help of a point in which the right-hander tumbled to his backside, scrambled back to his feet and hit a shot lefty. "Once Rafa breaks my serves, then the match becomes hard for me", conceded Del Potro, who hit 77 winners throughout the course of the match, compared to Nadal's 66.

Due to play their semi-final at Wimbledon on Friday, the pair were still not on Centre Court come 7pm - despite being only the second scheduled match on the main show court.

Soon, Nadal gained the upper hand, shaking off a hard fall onto his back on one point by whipping a cross-court backhand victor on the next to break for a 3-2 lead.

A tired Del Potro, a semi-finalist in 2013, finished with 33 aces and 77 winners but even those impressive statistics were not enough.

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"At the moment I'm feeling sad", del Porto told reporters. I knew I was in a good spot.

Being kept on court for so long before a 52nd meeting with Djokovic is not exactly the kind of preparation the 17-times Grand Slam champion would have wanted.

The Spaniard will face Novak Djokovic in the last four for a chance to meet either John Isner or Kevin Anderson in the final.

A rematch of previous year's finals at Roland Garros, it was a gruelling five-setter match.

"Sorry to Juan Martin, he´s an unbelievable opponent and player. In some ways he deserves to go through too", Nadal told the BBC after the match.

"Anything could have happened, so this is a big achievement for me to get to the semi-finals at Wimbledon". It had a little of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting insane with his forehands. "I tried to resist and maintain focus".

As it was, Del Potro came out on top in both counts by conjuring 77 of those winners and blasting down 33 aces - and still came off second best. I played Roger in 2012.

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