He led 40-15 but both match points went begging.
While the Federer exit, to South African Kevin Anderson, losing 13-11 in the final set, is what will sadden most viewers and grab what there are of tennis headlines today, Nadal coming from two sets to one down against perennial almost man Juan Martin Del Potro produced perhaps the most unbelievable tennis of the day, and definitely the moment of the tournament. A great quality of tennis, especially in the last set, some wonderful points, .
The defending champion had a match point in the third set but, in his own words, "blew" the opportunity and Anderson ended up triumphing 13-11 in a dramatic fifth set.
"The last set had a little bit of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting insane with his forehands". I tried to resist and maintain focus. "It's a day to be happy".
The crowd were on their feet when Del Potro took off to end a magnificent point with a diving volley in a marathon third game, yet Nadal got the break with a sublime cross-court victor in the next service game. Can Nadal's body stand up to another tough test less than 48 hours after playing for 12 minutes short of five hours with Del Potro?
"I think he will be fine, for sure".
Prediction Rafael Nadal to win 3-1.
"After nearly five hours match, I fell down". I wanted to stay there for all night long. "It's a big chance for me to face Rafa tomorrow".
The fourth-round match resumed on Tuesday afternoon after bad light had stopped play on Monday with the Argentinian leading by two sets to one.
It was not as if Nadal was playing badly.
The world number one then wasted four set points in the second.
It was as if that out-of-the-blue news threw the Spaniard off his stride and he fluffed his lines to drop his serve.
The Argentine was in danger of being dragged into a fifth set when he squandered four match points, one with a double-fault, at 5-4 having hit back from 1-3 down.
Nadal carved out the crucial break in the opening set for a 6-5 lead and claimed the opener off a Del Potro backhand error.
A tired Del Potro, a semi-finalist in 2013, finished with 33 aces and 77 winners but even those impressive statistics were not enough. I'm sure he's in good shape again.
The roaring Centre Court fans who gave him a standing ovation would not disagree.