Rafael Nadal got the better of Juan Martin Del Potro in four set in what proved to be a Wimbledon classic.
The world number one triumphed 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, but there will be a slight worry over his fitness for the remainder of the tournament after further injuring a troublesome foot.
Del Potro, too, needed an injury time out but this didn’t affect the quality of play from either player. Both players provided a marvellous spectacle in a sunny evening at SW19, even though there were only two breaks of service in the entire match.
The early exchanges were dominated by big serving with only Nadal threatening on the other’s serve. He had a chance to break on the fifth game but an ace saved the day for the Argentine, which enabled him to survive his first real test.
There was controversy in the ninth game when Nadal was warned over the length of time he was taking between serves. The world number one was clearly unhappy at this decision but it only served to inspire him, playing some great shots, including a back hand smash when Del Potro tried a lob.
Drama, then, unfolded when Nadal, who had problems with his foot, called for a medical time out. He had been struggling when putting pressure on it and the doctor said there was a problem near the bone. However Nadal carried on despite concerns from everyone.
And so the set was to be decided on a tie break. Del Potro took a 3-0 lead but was pegged back to 4-all, and with either seemingly incapable of winning their own serve, Nadal finally took it after Del Potro double faulted.
The Spaniard looked to be moving better as we moved into the second set but, after a tight start, was broken after an error strewn game allowed Del Potro to serve for the set, which he made no mistake in doing so, playing some classy tennis to hold to love.
It was the first service break of the match so far and it was no more than the former US Open champion deserved.
But then more injury hit Centre Court, although this time it was Del Potro who was the victim. He slipped at the back of the court and subsequently hurt his hip. After an injury time out, he was back on court.
Even with both players injured, the quality of play still remained the highest. Neither was able to break again so we entered another tie break. And like the first one, mini breaks were a common theme.
Nadal, though, held his nerve and earned himself three set points, winning the second of them to move two sets to one ahead.
And Nadal took a massive step towards the quarter-finals by breaking the Del Potro serve for the first time in twenty attempts in the middle of the fourth set.
Del Potro was determined, however, and fought all the way to the end, which was much to the delight of an excited crowd.
Nadal, though, was too good for him and managed to serve it out to win 6-4.