Juan Martin del Potro reached his first French Open semifinal in nine years with a 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Marin Cilic, setting up a meeting with Rafael Nadal.
Rain had halted play in the first set on Wednesday but it resumed Thursday morning in front of an initially sparse crowd on Court Suzanne Lenglen, with Del Potro quickly taking control.
There was a sticky spell for the world No. 6 at the end of the second set and start of the third, but he recovered to dispatch Cilic in a little under four hours of action.
Having waited since 2009 for a semifinal appearance at Roland Garros, Del Potro was in tears in his post-match interview on court as he was reminded of a tough stretch with wrist injuries in the interim.
He now faces clay king Nadal on Friday for a place in what would be just his second Grand Slam final.
“It’s tough to speak now. I don’t have any words to describe this moment. It’s so good for me, for my team, for my family.”@delpotrojuan #RG18 pic.twitter.com/e0xVfSZiE0
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 7, 2018
Resuming at 5-5 in the tiebreak, Del Potro needed only two points to wrap up the first set, with Cilic playing into the net.
That decisive moment prompted an aggressive celebration from Del Potro, but he quickly regained his calm to make a big-serving start to the second.
There was frustration on the fifth seed’s part when he failed to break through in a lengthy fourth game, though, which proved costly when a double fault handed Cilic control of the set at 5-4 after Del Potro confronted a member of the crowd.
The set sparked into life from the point, with Del Potro breaking to love but then falling behind again in the very next game, as Cilic served out to draw level in the match.
It appeared the contest had turned when Cilic broke to start the third and nearly made another gain immediately afterwards.
But Del Potro rallied and put together a superb run, breaking back and then edging in front, ending the set with five straight games over a shell-shocked Cilic.
A tighter fourth followed until mistakes crept back into Cilic’s game late on, allowing an emotional Del Potro to kick on in a now raucous arena and seal victory.
Del Potro  bt Cilic  7-6 (7-5) 5-7 6-3 7-5
Del Potro – 31/36
Cilic – 53/74
Del Potro – 19/2
Cilic – 18/5
BREAK POINTS WON
Del Potro – 4/13
Cilic – 3/11
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Del Potro – 61
Cilic – 56
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Del Potro – 79/53
Cilic – 71/45
Del Potro – 159
Cilic – 135