It took Novak Djokovic 4 hours and 49 minutes on Friday to beat Juan Martin del Potro in five sets 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-7(8), 6-3 and advance to the 2013 Wimbledon Finals. It was the longest semifinal match in the tournament’s history and one of the most memorable.
Many picked Djokovic to win Wimbledon, but not many picked del Potro to even make it to the quarterfinals. Breitbart Sports, though, was one of the few outlets to pick del Potro to reach the quarterfinals and basically said no one should be surprised if del Potro reached the semifinals.
Neither man lost a set in the tournament up to this point and they did not want to give up their perfect record. Djokovic would win a game and then del Potro would fire back. Neither player had a hand up or complete control in the match. Both tried to gain momentum, but neither could hold on to it.
To make it more interesting. del Potro was hurt and was taking anti-inflammatory pills during breaks. He injured his knee during the fourth round and reinjured it in the quarterfinals against David Ferrer. In that match he went down in the first set, but fought on to win. Despite the hurt knee, he came close to beating Djokovic. Djokovic tried to wear down del Potro by making him chase balls, but it did not work. The Argentinian would hit back and force Djokovic to scramble, often not able to return the ball.
Djokovic had many opportunities to gain control, but allowed them to slip away. He was up 6-4 in the fourth set, but del Potro came back to win it in a tiebreak–after surviving two match points. It may have weakened del Potro. After a few tumbles and spills through the match del Potro received attention to his knee and he was a lot slower. The fifth set was not as close and Djokovic won it 6-3.
Djokovic ended the match with 80 winners and 22 aces compared to del Potro’s 48 and four. The knee really hampered his serving ability, but he did average a serving speed of 120mph.
Both players acknowledged the significance of the match afterwards in a press conference.
“One of the best matches I’ve been a part of,” Djokovic said. “One of the most exciting definitely. It was so close. You couldn’t separate us. Exciting.”
“I think this match is going to be memory for a few years,” del Potro said. “We play for four hours and a half on a very high level. We didn’t make too many errors. I don’t know if the rest of the players can play like us today.”
He will play in his 11th Grand Slam title game against Andy Murray on Sunday.