Djokovic will meet South African Kevin Anderson in the final on Sunday
Novak Djokovic will face Kevin Anderson in the men’s singles final at Wimbledon after edging past Rafael Nadal in an epic semi-final encounter.
The Serbian, who last played in a final at SW19 in 2015, came through with a 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11/9) 3-6 10-8 win.
Djokovic was two sets to one up at the close of play on Friday night but Nadal came roaring back at the start of play on Saturday – winning the fourth set to level the tie.
The Spaniard, serving for the set, faced three break back points but clawed them back and won the game with an ace, which was called out but on review had kissed the line.
The deciding set was fast approaching Kevin Anderson and John Isner territory when, at 9-8, Nadal’s level dropped.
Djokovic forced three match points and converted the first when an exhausted Nadal hit a forehand long.
The match was the second longest semi-final in Wimbledon history at five hours and 17 minutes, still an hour and 20 minutes shy of Friday’s marathon which Anderson won.
The women’s final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will start just after 4pm.
Djokovic said: “I’m just overwhelmed.”
He explained it was a “very special” victory, saying: “It really could have gone either way. It was very clear that very few things separated the two players and until the last shot I didn’t know if I was going to win. I believed it but I knew that he was very, very close and he had some chances. This kind of match you live for, you work for.”
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“It was a late night, early morning but at the end of the day I’m so glad to overcome this challenge.”
Of the task against Anderson, Djokovic said: “Hopefully we can first of all play, both of us get out on court. It’s been a roller coaster ride for him, the last couple of rounds, but he’s had a day off which means a lot. I wish I could have had one.
“But I’m in the final of Wimbledon and it’s an incredible achievement for me after what I’ve been through. I’m trying to digest that first, enjoy it, and we’ll think about the next one.”