It was a case of down but definitely not out as a Rafael Nadal kept picking himself off a slippery and dusty Centre Court surface to storm into the Wimbledon semi-finals with a pulsating 7-5 6-7 (7) 4-6 6-4 6-4 over Juan Martin del Potro.
Del Potro finished with 77 winners to Nadal's 67 but could not convert any of his five break points in the fifth set. The final set there were some awesome points. Del Potro broke and served for the set at 5-4, but double-faulted and Nadal clinched the break-back with a rasping forehand down the line.
And Nadal rued failing to take control against del Potro much earlier.
Nadal, whose 17 Grand Slam titles are eclipsed by Federer's 20 and the 23 owned by Williams, did not disappoint in the late afternoon sunshine as he dissected fellow left-hander Vesely with a typically rumbustious display.
Del Potro let two break-back points slip in the sixth game and then forced Nadal to save three more breaks for 5-3.
"Rafa is a fighter".
Del Potro was straining to stay in touch in almost every point, and his gambling instincts drove him to explore the white lines.
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Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro celebrates winning his the fourth round match against France's Gilles Simon.
"Against Rafa", del Potro said, "you must go for winners all the time".
The deciding fifth set was a tight battle, but in the fifth game, Nadal got the solitary break to lead 3-2. He went 4-3 in front, before closing out the set to increase the pressure on Nadal. The hard-serving American beat Milos Raonic of Canada 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Kevin Anderson of South Africa in Wimbledon's last four.
"I do think that towards the end of the match there was a certain dampness in the sections where there was still grass, nearer the net, when the humidity drops", Nadal explained in his Spanish language press conference.
Isner's 41 attempts to make a semifinal at a major is the second most in the 50-year professional era, behind Sam Querrey, who made the last four at Wimbledon last year with his 42nd try.
The 33-year-old Simon saved a fourth match point when he threw the kitchen sink at a forehand return and the world number 53 eventually took his fourth break point to level at 5-5.