It was a case of better late than never as Kevin Anderson reached his first Wimbledon final with a heart-stopping 7-6 (6) 6-7 (5) 6-7 (9) 6-4 26-24 win over the sport's perennial ultra marathon man John Isner on Friday.
The fifth set alone lasted almost 3 hours as the semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill.
Nadal, 32, is back in the semi-finals at Wimbledon for the first time since 2011 when he finished runner-up to Djokovic.
The match will resume on Saturday at 1pm United Kingdom time (12pm SA time), with the score standing at 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11/9) in favour of Djokovic.
The match will finish on Saturday.
Afterwards, the two exhausted players made it clear that there should be a cut-off point in the fifth set deciders, where the match is decided by a tie break. "I was pretty close to making a Grand Slam final, and it didn't happen". "I really hope we can look at this, because at the end you don't feel great", Anderson said.
The No. 8 seed Anderson eliminated eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a 13-11 fifth set in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
"I don't really know what to say right now", Anderson told the BBC.
The match could not end due to a quirk of Wimbledon and two of the other Grand Slams - the fifth set cannot end in a tiebreaker.
"I agree with Kevin".
"I feel pretty bad", Isner said in a news conference.
"We haven't played in a few years, which I think is a little bit weird", Isner said of his former American college rival.
With Djokovic hitting the lines with relentless regularity, Nadal saved two more break points at 1-1 then seized the initiative to punish Djokovic for his first lapse. It culminated in a gruelling 50-game final set in which the South African got to love-30 against Isner's serve on several occasions, but just couldn't pull off a service break.
"I feel like she's been playing really well, ".
"We've been lined up against each other for about 14 years now, because he left IL when I left Georgia. I'm sort of more focused on that than getting too excited about the overall picture".
The roller-coaster match saw Dabrowski and Xu fight off three match points before tying it at 5-5 in the third set.
"That's no consolation to me".
"I'm going to expect a very tough match on Friday".
Isner, who famously unleashed 113 aces on Nicolas Mahut in his 11-hour, five-minute Wimbledon victory over the Frenchman in 2010, leads Anderson 8-3 head to head.
A rematch of previous year's finals at Roland Garros, it was a gruelling five-setter match. You feel like this is a draw between the two of us, but somebody has to win.
Sadly for Isner, his 214th ace was his last of the championships.
"John's such a great guy".
Anderson will now attempt overturn a losing record against both Nadal (5-0) and Djokovic (5-1).
Serbian Novak Djokovic and Spaniard Rafael Nadal were forced to wait in the wings for hours as the action unfolded.