Novak Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 10-8 to make his first Wimbledon final in three years. It was Nadal's first ever semifinal defeat at Wimbledon.
Djokovic will now face Kevin Anderson, who outlasted John Isner in a five-set, six-hour epic semifinal on Friday.
Despite having their playing time on Friday evening reduced after the first semifinal marathon, the rivalry between the Serb and the Spaniard produced yet more scintilating tennis.
Under the roof of Centre Court, Djokovic took the first set before Nadal won the second. With the clock slipping past 11pm (the curfew time for action at Wimbledon to end play for the day) Djokovic survived three set points in a brilliant tiebreak before beating Nadal in a remarkable 17-stroke rally to edge ahead.
"The adrenaline was so high so it's not easy to relax, calm down and fall quickly into REM [deep sleep]," said Djokovic afterwards. "It was a late night and an early morning – I was back on court practising at 9:30 this morning."
A few hours later, the pair started as they finished the night before – the first game of the day lasting 16 minutes with Nadal initially coming out on top. At first it proved costly for Djokovic as Nadal raced into a 3-0 lead, but the Serb broke back to level it at 3-3. The twists and turns continued, but eventually Nadal held on to clinch the fourth set 6-3.
Down 4-3 in the final set, Nadal was forced to work hard to hold his serve as the contest continued. In the very next game, Djokovic delivered two huge serves to save two break points. Then it was Nadal's turn to avoid a break. Even at 5-5 there was no telling which way the match would go.
As the match progressed to 6-6 and 7-7, fans could have been forgiven for having flashbacks to the previous day's marathon – but this was a match-up of far higher quality. Breaks of serve were hard to come by, not simply because of the ferocity of the two mens' serves, but because of the sheer genius of their all-round play.
At 8-7, Djokovic finally had match point on the Nadal serve, but the Spaniard showed guts of steel and the touch of a feather with a little drop shot to save the point, before holding serve with a huge ace.
On they went at 8-8 and then 9-8, the match passing the five-hour mark until Djokovic finally took his chance, converting the first of three match points at 0-40 to set up a meeting with Anderson tomorrow.
"I just hope we'll be able to play at all!" a relieved Djokovic told British public broadcaster BBC, referring to the physical challenge both he and his opponent have endured – the South African has played a mammoth 21 hours of tennis at this tournement already.
"It's been a rollercoaster for him over the last couple of months but he's had a day off which means a lot – I wish I could have one.
"But it is what it is. I'm in the final of Wimbledon which is an incredible achievement. I'm just trying to digest that first, then I can enjoy the final."