Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro came through a clash of the titans against Marin Cilic to reach his first French Open semi-final for nine years on Thursday, winning a rain-delayed duel 7-6(5) 5-7 6-3 7-5.
The 29-year-old powerhouse’s eighth successive defeat of Cilic set up a clash with 10-times champion Rafael Nadal.
Play resumed on a sunny Court Suzanne Lenglen with the towering fifth and third seeds locked at 5-5 in the first set tiebreak after rain had curtailed their high-octane clash on Wednesday.
Del Potro needed only two points to pocket the first set as Cilic blinked first, netting a routine forehand a 5-6.
The second set like, the first was dominated by serve until Cilic fired himself up to break at 4-4 — a furious Del Potro throwing his racket at the changeover.
Croatian Cilic played an awful game when serving for the set, making four unforced errors, but he was gifted another chance to serve for the set after breaking Del Potro again and at the second time of asking he leveled the match.
Del Potro dipped at the start of the third and Cilic had points for a double break but the burly Argentine, roared on by chants of “Delpo Delpo” recovered his drive to hit back from 0-2 and take the third set.
Former Roland Garros junior champion Cilic, bidding to reach the semi-finals for the first time after falling in the last eight 12 months ago, kept his nose in front in the fourth.
He buckled at 5-5 though and sent a backhand long on break point, leaving Del Potro to serve for the match, which he did with ease as Cilic sent three more backhands out.