Wimbledon - Nadal survives second five-setter
World number one Rafael Nadal had to fight his way through yet another five-set marathon, finally wearing down German Philipp Petzschner 6-4 4-6 6-7(5) 6-2 6-3 to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Nadal, taken the distance by Dutchman Robin Haase in the previous round, had never before had to win two five-set matches to reach the last 16 in a grand slam before.
The Spaniard, who could not defend his Wimbledon title last year because of a knee injury, was not moving freely. He kept having to call for the trainer and looked in discomfort toward the end of the epic encounter.
He moved one step closer to another dream final against Roger Federer - but it was a draining match to take him into the second week.
Nadal swiftly broke the German's serve in the first set and maintained his advantage to take it comfortably 6-4.
Nadal's serve suddenly crumbled in the 10th game of the second set with a missed smash paving the way for the number 33 seed to level the match.
The third set was on a knife edge until Petzschner saved a break point in the 11th game. Then in a thrilling tiebreak, Nadal saved two set points before the German took it with a service winner.
Despite twice calling the trainer, Nadal was still able to race to 4-1 lead in the fourth set. He then broke the German a second time when Petzschner lost the set tamely on a double fault.
With the match finely poised and both players struggling with niggling injuries, a clearly exhausted and dejected Petzschner called the trainer.
At the start of the deciding set he missed a sitter of a volley with the court wide open. It sunk his morale and his shoulders visibly sagged.
Nadal was enraged at 2-2 when the umpire warned him about coaching from the stands by his uncle Toni, waving an admonishing figure in fury at Cedric Mourier.
The Spaniard was rewarded for his grinding effort, breaking to take a 5-3 lead in the decider before serving out.
Next up for Nadal will be Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, who beat Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker 7-6(5) 7-6(6) 6-7(8) 6-4.
Sweden's Robin Soderling bulldozed his way into the second week for the second year running with a 6-4 6-2 7-5 victory over 25th seed Thomaz Bellucci.
The sixth seed found the Brazilian a tough nut to crack in the opening set but made the breakthrough with his first break point to clinch the set in game 10 after a display of violent hitting from both players on a warm but cloudy day on Court One.
Soderling, bidding to be the first Swede to reach the final here since Stefan Edberg in 1990, dashed through the second in 31 minutes and continued his run through the draw without losing a set when the Brazilian thrashed a backhand long.
He will face ninth seed David Ferrer for a place in the quarter-finals on Monday, the Spaniard coming through a tough five-setter 7-5 6-3 4-4 3-6 7-5 against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.