Djokovic into final after marathon against Nadal
NOVAK Djokovic has overcome Rafael Nadal in another All England Club thriller to scrape into the Wimbledon final, catapulting the Serb to within sight of a remarkable comeback.
A day after Kevin Anderson and John Isner slugged out a record 6hrs,36mins semi, Djokovic needed 5hrs,16mins to douse Nadal 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11-9) 3-6 10-8 - the second-longest semi here.
In a clash of extraordinary drama and parity, both men hit 73 winners and made 42 unforced errors each.
Djokovic won 195 points to Nadal's 191, illustrating the marginal difference.
In the end, Djokovic's pressure told.
He could barely speak post-match after reflecting on his injury travails of the past two years.
"It's hard to pick the words, I'm just going through things that just flash back the past 15 months," he said.
"To get to the final against the best player in the world, I don't know.
"It's very special. It really could have gone either way.
"Very few things separated us. To the last shot, I didn't know.
"This kind of match, you live for."
Djokovic will face eighth Anderson, seeking a fourth All England Club crown from a fifth final.
The champion here in 2011 and '14-15, Djokovic won the most recent of his 12 majors at the 2016 French Open.
Subsequently troubled with elbow issues, the baseliner experimented with several different coaches, including Boris Becker and Andre Agassi.
But a reunion recently with long-term mentor Marian Vajda has sparked an impressive revival.
As Djokovic and Nadal tussled on centre court, Anderson spent the day recuperating after his sapping encounter with Isner.
The length of the first semi meant Djokovic and Nadal were unable to finish their match on Friday night.
Play was suspended because of a strict local curfew with Djokovic leading 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11-9).
In desperate straits, Nadal barely escaped Djokovic's clutches hen play resumed.
The Spaniard needed 16 minutes, weathering two break points, to fend off the Serb - and then broke Djokovic and speared to a 3-0 lead.
But, serving for a 4-1 buffer, Nadal blundered with a pair of forehand errors to lose serve.
The rollercoaster continued when Nadal broke for a 5-3 lead, leaving Djokovic to belt the sole of his left shoe with his racquet in frustration.
Serving to push the match into a fifth set, Nadal staved off three break points before levelling with an ace.
Nadal held five break points throughout an epic set but couldn't capitalise.
The French Open champion saved a match point in the 16th game but yanked a forehand wide to depart a 91-minute deciding set.
Anderson is the first South African man since Brian Norton in 1921 to contest a Wimbledon decider.
Djokovic leads the pair's head to head 5-1.