Djokovic outlasts Nadal in Wimbledon semi
Novak Djokovic is "overwhelmed" after denying Rafael Nadal in a titanic five-set tussle stretching over two days to reach his fifth Wimbledon final - and first grand slam title decider in almost two years.
The Serbian superstar resisted a ferocious fightback from the world No.1 to prevail 6-4 3-6 7-6 (9-11) 3-6 10-8 in the second-longest semi-final in the championships' 150-year history.
The start of the 52nd instalment of tennis's most enduring rivalry was delayed by the longest grand slam match ever played on Friday - Kevin Anderson's epic six-hour, 36-minute defeat of American John Isner - and forced to resume on Saturday before the women's final.
But it was worth the wait as fans - including the Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Sussex in the front row of the Royal Box - were treated to a breathtaking deciding set at The All England Club.
As it was for the first three sets before the 11pm Wimbledon council curfew forced the suspension on Friday night, the centre court roof was closed.
The quality on display was spectacular and towards the climax ridiculous as the two heavyweight combatants elevated their games to insane levels.
Nadal grabbed the fourth set to set up a monumental 91-minute decider that Djokovic clinched when the Spaniard fired a forehand wide.
"I'm just overwhelmed. This kind of match you live for, you work for," Djokovic said after qualifying for his 18th grand slam final.
"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."
Nadal will regret his missed opportunity the night before, when he was in the ascendancy but passed up two set points.
While Anderson and Isner's record-setting tussle was more an exercise in totting up aces, this was a cast-iron classic.
Chasing a 13th career major, but first since completing the non-calendar-year grand slam sweep at the 2016 French Open, Djokovic will carry a 5-1 winning record over Anderson into the championship showdown.
Two of those victories came at The All England Club, but Anderson - the quarter-final slayer of defending champion Roger Federer - was close last time with Djokovic having to battle back from two sets down in a thrilling fourth-round shootout in 2015.
The eighth-ranked Anderson will be contesting his second grand slam final in 10 months after falling to Nadal in last year's US Open decider.
Not surprisingly, despite his unquestionable credentials, Djokovic is refusing to accept clear-cut favouritism.
"I think we're quite even," he said after falling behind the South African in rankings during his long battle with an elbow injury.
"He's playing his second grand slam finals. He played the US Open finals last year.
"He's definitely playing the tennis of his life.
"He's coming off from two epic marathon five-set wins. I don't think he has much to lose really tomorrow.
"He's going to come out with big serves and big tennis.
"Hopefully I'll be able to weather the storm."
Victory for Djokovic would elevate the 31-year-old above Australian Roy Emerson into fourth place on men's tennis's all-time grand slam title leaderboard behind only Federer (20), Nadal (17) and Pete Sampras (14).