And then there were four.
Over the last 16 days, what began as a field of 128 hopefuls in the Wimbledon men’s singles classification, has been whittled down to nothing. And after a quarterfinal round filled defined by close matches, two more matches stand between Rafael Nadal, Kevin Anderson, Novak Djokovic and John Isner for glory.
How did the day’s action play out on grass? Read on to find out.
#2 Nadal def. #5 del Potro
In one of two matches to stretch to five sets, two-time Wimbledon champion Nadal came back against Juan Martin del Potro to book his first semifinal showing since 2011.
The Spaniard found himself in trouble after three sets. Down two sets to one, Nadal rallied midway through the fourth, forcing a decisive fifth set.
For nearly five hours, both competitors sprinted across Centre Court at the All England Club. Ultimately, Nadal’s quality shone through. Despite conceding 33 aces to del Potro’s three, the 32-year-old recorded fewer double faults, more break points and a higher first-serve percentage than the Argentine.
“I think it was great, quality tennis,” Nadal told the BBC. “It had a little of everything: great points, great rallies. …
“Sorry to Juan Martin, (he’s) an amazing opponent and player. In some ways, he deserves to go through too.”
#8 Anderson def. #1 Federer
Going in, this match portrayed the story of two careers: Roger Federer’s, one of eight Grand Slam victories at Wimbledon alone; and Kevin Anderson’s, one that had never advanced past the fourth round in London.
After five grueling sets, you’d have imagined it were the other way around.
On the strength of his serves, Anderson came back on the living legend in rousing fashion, trouncing Federer 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 to find himself in a Grand Slam semifinal for just the second time in his career.
The 32-year-old South African could be feeling a little fortunate: Holding match point at 5-4 in the third set, Federer whacked an errant backhand into the netting.
For the Swiss, it all fell apart from there.
“Down two sets to love, I tried my best to keep fighting,” Anderson told The Independent. “Beating Roger Federer here at Wimbledon in such a close match will definitely be one that I’ll remember especially.”
#12 Djokovic def. #24 Nishikori
On paper, Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori‘s quarterfinal was the most clear cut. Four sets later, that assessment proved prescient.
Outperforming his opposition in aces recorded, first-serve win percentage and break points won, the 31-year-old Serbian recorded a comfortable 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win.
After an inconsistent year marred by elbow surgery, Djokovic will compete in the eighth Wimbledon semifinal of his career.
“I feel great to be in the last four of a Grand Slam,” the three-time Wimbledon champ said in an article for The Express. “I have been building on my game and working on the level of tennis that I have been playing in the last few months.
“It was looking and feeling like it was getting better and better as time went on. I feel like I’m peaking at the right moment.”
#9 Isner def. #13 Raonic
Back in 2010, on the same Wimbledon grass, John Isner contested the longest professional tennis match in history, an affair that stretched 11 hours and five minutes over the course of three days.
Thankfully for the 33-year-old, Wednesday’s quarterfinal was considerably less taxing.
Competing in only the second Grand Slam quarterfinal of his career, Isner took down Canadian Milos Raonic in four sets, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-4, 6-3.
The 6-foot-10 American was lethal with the ball in his court: Isner struck 25 aces and recorded a first-serve win percentage of 90 percent. Across his five-match run in this year’s tournament, Isner has won all 95 service games he’s played.
”I like to think that, since that match (in 2010), I’ve done a lot of good stuff on the court performance-wise,” he told told Yahoo Sports.
“I think if I can keep going further here, I can maybe squash that.”