Tennis

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Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro embraced after Wimbledon epic

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As something akin to a Shakespearian tragedy was being played out in the heart of Moscow, a no-less epic battle was taking place on Wimbledon's Centre Court.

After a mammoth effort that took almost five hours to come to its conclusion, tennis superstar Rafael Nadal and the equally talented Argentine Juan Martin del Potro battled it out for a place in the men's singles semi-final.

It was a five-set belter. Another game for the ages. A triumph for the sport.

Rafa eventually subdued the magnificent del Potro 7-5, 6-7 (7-9), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to secure his first Wimbledon semi-final since 2011. What? Since 2011? 

It's hard to believe that the 32-year-old Spaniard, who played his first professional game back in 2001, has not been as far as the semi-finals for seven years. But there it is.

Nadal has been a crowd favourite wherever he has played, even when up against Andy Murray or back further, Tim Henman, who he beat twice.

His athleticism and mastery of the court has cemented him in the annals of the game as a great. His compassion, respect for the game, his legion of fans, and for his opponents has elevated him to the rarefied air of legends of tennis.

Last night's victory over del Potro was of the highest calibre. The hardest fought. Excruciating for both players. Ultimately, like all games at that level, it came down to mental toughness. Who would succumb to the blistering pace, the physical exertion, the pressure.

History will show that the Balearic Islands born Spaniard prevailed. 

TENNIS-GBR-WIMBLEDON

What it may not show was the magnificent sportsmanship and respect shown by Nadal for his vanquished adversary.

Nadal's serve and volley winner left the Argentinian sprawled across the court. Exhausted. Mentally drained. Beaten. He lay there for a moment before Nadal stepped over the net to pull the world's fourth ranked player to his feet to then embrace him.

It was emblematic of the man Nadal has become. A true champion. In the pantheon of modern tennis greats, he reclines with the best of them. Sampras, Agassi, Federer, Djokovic.

They're greats not just for their skill and tennis, but for their humanity, warm, strength and frailty.

Last evening's match will temporarily be over-shadowed by events elsewhere in the sporting lexicon, but it will live on in the hearts for all who watched the marathon match.

And through the beauty of our digital age, those glued to the screens following another defining match, may access a replay of this phenomenal quarter-final and just admire what went on. 

It may not make up for the heartbreak many of us feel this morning, but it will go some way to reminding us how truly magnificent sport is, and just how majestic some of its stars truly are.

Both men won. Sadly, one goes further in the tournament, but it was simply a moment of tennis excellence, and human compassion.

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Topics:
Rafael Nadal
Juan Martin Del Potro
Wimbledon
Tennis

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