Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon 2018 semi-final

Rafael Nadal

The crowd grew restless as it left Centre Court ticket-holders waiting far longer than anticipated to watch icons of the sport Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic resume their enduring rivalry with a 52nd meeting on the ATP Tour in the other semifinal.

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"The effort they both put in and the performance and the guts, the way they competed - a lot to be proud of", said Justin Gimelstob, one of Isner's coaches.

It was the second longest singles match ever played at a Grand Slam.

The women's final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will then follow.

It is a match that featured 102 thunderbolt aces, 264 unreturned serves and 247 bone-rattling winners but none of those will stand out as much as the heart and desire of the two combatants as both tried to reach their first Wimbledon final.

For his part, Djokovic is eyeing a 13th major after making the semifinals of a Slam for the first time since finishing runner-up at the 2016 US Open.

Djokovic was in the lead two-sets to one when play was halted.

All the 32-year-old had left in him was to give Isner a sympathetic hug after he came out on top in the second-longest match ever contested at the All England Club.


A big-serving match tends to have shorter points than one featuring at least one return-orientated player, and so it proved in these - Anderson and Federer played 67 games in 257 minutes (3.84 minutes per game), while it took Nadal and Del Potro 292 minutes to play 55 games (5.31 minutes per game).

John Isner already had won the longest match in Wimbledon - and tennis - history.

Not surprisingly, the insanely long match reignited discussions about whether tennis needs to institute a tiebreaker to avoid these kind of circumstances. Both were on clay, in Madrid a year ago and in Rome as recently as May and the top seed regained his composure in the second set converting two out of three opportunities to break serve and level the last-four contest at one set apiece.

Anderson began his Wimbledon with a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over qualifier Norbert Gombos before beating Andreas Seppi 6-3 6-7 6-3 6-4.

Nadal was knocked out in the fourth round, losing 13-11 in the final set to Luxembourgish journeyman Gilles Müller.

Almost three punishing hours later they both left Centre Court with their title hopes still intact.

While the U.S. Open would have a 6-6 fifth set end in a tiebreaker race to win by two, with every point building in importance and drama, Wimbledon uses advantage sets and insists that you must break your opponent's service game and win the set by two games to win the match. For us to be out there for that amount of time, I really hope we can address this.

Second seed Nadal saved a break point at the start of the second set and celebrated holding serve with a trademark upper-cut fist pump. "I'm super happy. To do it here at Wimbledon makes it even a little bit more special".

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