Second seed Nadal lost a mere seven points on serve in the first two sets, struck 37 winners and barely put a foot wrong, comfortably sealing a last-eight meeting with Juan Martin Del Potro or Gilles Simon. Nadal took him to deuce but couldn't nail the break and they went to the shootout, where, against all likelihood, Nadal double-faulted on set point.
The French Open champion will next face Novak Djokovic in a clash of two former champions following the Serbian's success over Kei Nishikori earlier on Wednesday.More news: Leahy: Trump's Supreme Court Pick 'More Than Frightening'
Del Potro threw everything he could at Nadal in a pulsating match and even conjured the shot of the tournament as he acrobatically dived to his right to hit a fizzing forehand volley that ended a spellbinding 23-shot rally.
The fifth seed had led by two sets on Monday but Simon grabbed the third set before fading light ended play. And so it proved in a match that got better the longer it went as he ground out a 7-5, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win in four hours and 47 minutes, the longest of the tournament.
But there were flourishes to Nadal's play too, notably another hotdog shot and also a wicked forehand victor that cut across the court and dipped dramatically onto the line. Del Potro made him pay as he pounced on his first chance to raise the prospect of another upset on day nine.More news: Giant crocodile captured in Australia to stop it going to town
Nadal started strong on serve to power his way into a 3-2 lead during the opening set.
"Rafa is a fighter". A blistering, nearly joyous whipped forehand sealed the set for Nadal and they went to a fifth.
"I do think that towards the end of the match there was a certain dampness in the sections where there was still grass, nearer the net, when the humidity drops", Nadal explained in his Spanish language press conference.More news: Husband dies on honeymoon after colliding with wife on zip line
John Isner has reached his first Grand Slam semi-final on his 41st appearance. The hard-serving American beat Milos Raonic of Canada 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Kevin Anderson of South Africa in Wimbledon's last four.
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