Djokovic fights to an epic win over del Potro

No matter how Wimbledon turns out, both Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro will always have their spot in one of the most memorable matches in the storied history of the All England Club.

Slugging back and forth over 4 hours, 43 minutes of withering, backbreaking tennis, the top-seeded Djokovic emerged with a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (8), 6-3 victory over del Potro on Friday to move one victory away from his seventh major title.

Djokovic and Del Potro played an outstanding match. AP

Djokovic and Del Potro played an outstanding match. AP

"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."

It was the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history and was only five minutes short of the 2008 five-set final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal that's also considered one of the greatest matches ever played on Centre Court.

Djokovic moved into his 11th Grand Slam final, where he'll play either No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz or No. 2 Andy Murray.

That one began late — nearly 6:15 p.m., after Djokovic and del Potro spent the entire afternoon exchanging huge groundstrokes, long rallies and even a few laughs during their marathon match, which covered five sets, 55 games, two tiebreakers and 368 points.

Del Potro, back in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time since winning the 2009 U.S. Open, saved two match points in the fourth-set tiebreaker, then won the final four points to take it 8-6.

Shortly after, the match hit the 4-hour mark, guaranteeing it would surpass the 1989 match between Boris Becker and Ivan Lendl — a 4:01 affair — as the longest semifinal in Wimbledon's long history.

"Such a high level, from the first to the last point," said Djokovic, who finished with 80 winners and 22 aces. "I think I've never played in Wimbledon against such a player. I'm privileged to be the winner of this match."

AP