Del Potro sets up quarter-final showdown with Nadal

Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the fourth round match against Czech Republic's Jiri Vesely. Tony O'Brien Reuters

Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the fourth round match against Czech Republic's Jiri Vesely. Tony O'Brien Reuters

A few hours after Roger Federer's exit from the championships, the player most observers expected to be waiting for the defending champion across the net in Sunday's final, Rafael Nadal, continued in that direction with a five-set win of the highest quality over Juan Martín del Potro under a mellowing night sky on Centre Court.

Simon had an early break in the fourth set, but Del Potro hit back and was on the verge of victory until the Frenchman saved four match points to take it to another tie-break.

After two-and-a-half hours, Nadal and Del Potro were still a set-all and three-all.

Del Potro, whose best run at the All England Club saw him reach the semi-finals in 2013, triumphed 7-6 (7/1) 7-6 (7/5) 5-7 7-6 (7/5) to set up a last-eight meeting with Rafael Nadal. In the next game, Nadal staved off two break points, the first when he used his never-give-up-on-a-ball defence to stretch a point and del Potro pushed a forehand way long. He must get past three-time champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Friday for another shot at the title.

But Nadal was first to break in the deciding set and he built a 5-3 advantage with a looped forehand victor before confirming his final four place with a volley after four hours and 48 minutes.

The fourth-round match resumed on Tuesday afternoon after bad light had stopped play on Monday with the Argentinian leading by two sets to one.

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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.

There was, however, one consolation for Del Potro who came off second best despite belting down 33 aces and producing 77 staggering winners, 10 more than Nadal.

"In the end the court was a little bit slippery because the sun goes out and it was humid on the grass", Del Potro added.

There was a look of glee in Del Potro's sometimes sad eyes, and his lumbering between-points walk had a bit more energy to it. Nadal, struggling to get a solid second serve into hard areas, was de-fanged for long stretches.

"I think it was great quality tennis and in the final set there were some unbelievable points", said 2008 and 2010 champion Nadal.

Isner has yet to be broken at this year's tournament and saved the only break point he faced on Wednesday.

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