ANDY Murray specifically asked for Rafa Nadal’s quarter final with Juan Martin del Potro for his maiden TV commentary assignment for the BBC. Perhaps he knew something we didn’t. Or maybe he just wanted to make sure of an overtime payment. These two lawn tennis greats of the Latin world served up a feast in just short of five hours on Centre Court last night, a see-sawing epic on a slippery Centre Court surface which contained plenty of falls but no submissions.

Having traded blows and gone toe-to-toe like prize fighters, it was strangely fitting that the Tower of Tandil should be lying prone on the grass as the Mallorcan slapped away one last ground stroke on match point, putting the seal on this 7-5, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win. So too was the fact that Nadal should simply walk round to the other side of the net, wait for him to get back to his feet and then give the giant Argentinian a bear hug.

A re-match of that great final of 2008 may not have come to pass, but he at least has done his bit. Nadal is through to his first semi-final since losing to Djokovic in the final in 2011, after defeating his first top five opponent on grass since 2011.“It was a very emotional match with a great quality of tennis, particularly in that final set,” said the Spaniard. “There were some amazing points, Of course I am sorry for Juan Martin. He is an amazing opponent. In some way he deserves the win as well.”

At one point the Mallorcan even ended up in the front row of the crowd as he vainly chased down a Del Potro ground stroke. “It had a bit of everything,” said the two-time SW19 champion. “He was hitting the ball crazy with the forehand but I tried to resist and I was happy with the way I maintained focus. Now is the moment to enjoy but also start to recover. This was a very tough battle and there is not much time to recover and the opponent who is coming is one of the toughest opponents you can face.”

Rafa was right not to get too comfortable. Because as Murray also predicted the other day, Novak Djokovic is back to his old tricks this Wimbledon. The Serb received two code violation warnings from umpire Carlos Ramos as he opened the day’s play on Centre Court but it didn’t seem to do him much harm as he reached his eighth SW19 semi-final and his 32nd in major championships altogether. He has now won as many matches at Wimbledon as Pete Sampras.

The first came for racket abuse before a second later on for taking too much time between points. “Sometimes it fires you up, sometimes that’s what you need to be more alert on the court,” said Djokovic after his 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win against an opponent whose arm was heavily taped up. “I just asked the chair umpire, ‘how did I deserve that warning?’ I asked him whether he thought honestly that I damaged the court with the racket that I threw. It literally kind of touched the grass. Nishikori did the same in the fourth set and he didn’t get a warning.”

The battle of the big-servers went the way of another former Wimbledon finalist, John Isner eking out a a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3 win over Milos Raonic to book his place in what appears likely to be an equally attritional contest against Kevin Anderson.