Novak Djokovic outlasted Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (6), 6-3 in 4 hours and 43 minutes on Friday, the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history.
Del Potro repeatedly battled back in his first Wimbledon semifinal, breaking Djokovic to pull even in the fourth set and saving two match points in the tiebreaker to force a decisive fifth set. Djokovic hit 80 winners to 48 unforced errors compared to Del Potro’s 48 winners to 37 unforced errors, but it was Del Potro’s sizzling forehands that electrified the crowd and kept him in the match. It was a high-quality affair from first ball to last.
“It was one of the best matches I’ve been a part of,” Djokovic told the BBC. “One of the most exciting, definitely. It was so close. You couldn’t separate us. … That’s why he’s a Grand Slam champion. Every time he’s in a tough situation, he comes up with some unbelievable shots. I didn’t think I played wrong when I was match points up in the tiebreak. Credit to him for fighting.”
Djokovic, the 2011 champion, will play either Andy Murray or Jerzy Janowicz in Sunday’s final.