Novak Djokovic came into this match after beating Kei Nishikori in a relatively simple four-setter in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Wimbledon Championship. Rafael Nadal had to battle to defeat the fifth-seed Juan Martin del Potro in a five-set match lasting four hours and 48 minutes. The match started at 8 pm local time, leaving just 3 hours until the 11 pm Wimbledon curfew. Kevin Anderson and John Isner finished their marathon match under the sky despite some light rain, but the roof was closed for this second semifinal, anticipating the darkness. It was assumed that the match was unlikely to finish today.
Djokovic Takes The First With Consistency
There seemed to be a feeling-out process in the match to begin, but right from the start, Nadal struggled more on his service games than Djokovic, getting drawn into deuces. This resulted in a break for Djokovic at 3-3. The 12th seed worked hard to earn three break points, and after a forehand error, Nadal was broken for 4-3. The Serb held onto the break and ended the set with a forehand winner, 6-4 after 48 minutes. Djokovic's serving performance was very impressive, as he lost more than one point on serve in only one game. Djokovic also served five aces and won 78% of points after his first serve and 83% after his second.
Rafa Strikes Back
The second set was probably the pinnacle of good rallies, with Nadal and Djokovic producing some incredible long rallies despite the surface. The tone of the set was set right from the beginning, with Nadal having to save a break point on his first service game. These two showed why they're considered among the best returners of all time, as breakpoints and breaks were flying all over the place. Nadal broke Djokovic to lead 3-1, quite surprisingly after Djokovic's serving masterclass. The 12th seed broke back, but Nadal returned the favor and he was up 4-2. Nadal consolidated the break by holding to love for 5-2. Djokovic made Nadal serve the set out, and the second-seed did so gladly, winning it 6-3 after 53 minutes. The number-one won over 50% of both his service and return points, which was a clear key to victory in this set for the Spaniard.
Novak Will Sleep Easier
Did I say the second set was the pinnacle of tennis earlier? Sorry, that was before I saw this advertisement for tennis that was the third-set tiebreak. There were no breaks in the entire set, not even breakpoints, not even deuces! It was a total antithesis to the previous one, a scoreline that you would expect to see in the preceding Anderson - Isner match. To make up for this less-exciting set, Nadal and Djokovic showed what tennis is all about to the world in the tiebreaker. The pair traded mini-breaks to kick off the third-set tiebreaker, but it was Djokovic who developed a 4-2 and a 5-3 lead. Nadal responded with two forehand winners and a forced error from Djokovic to win the next three points and get a set point at 6-5. Nadal would get two more, at 7-6 and 8-7, but Djokovic managed to win the point on the deuce side on Nadal's serve to save them. Djokovic won the next two points from 7-8 down, and suddenly, he was the one with a set point. Nadal saved it, but he was unable to respond to Djokovic's backhand winner at 10-9, winning this incredible tiebreak for the Serb.
This was only the second match to go past Wimbledon's 11 pm curfew, finishing at 11:02, just like Andy Murray's third-round clash with Marcos Baghdatis in 2012. The match will finish tomorrow, starting off the day at 1 pm, preceding the women's final between Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams.