Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were unable to finish a fascinating late-night encounter under the roof at Wimbledon on Friday, with the Serb leading by two sets to one.
The pair had not got on court before 8pm, despite only being the second match of the day, after Kevin Anderson and John Isners six-and-a-half hour match delayed proceedings at the All England Club.
It will now have to be completed on Saturday – the same day as the womens final.
Incredibly, this was their first meeting at a major since the French Open in 2015, but it was very much worth the wait.
Djokovic – who suffered with an elbow injury and a subsequent loss of form – is clearly back to his best and proved exactly why hes been missed over the past 18 months – a period where Nadal and Roger Federer have taken it in turns to waltz to Grand Slam titles.
The three-time Wimbledon remains the only player on the ATP Tour capable of defeating the pair on their favoured surfaces and he relished the cooler conditions.
It was also a delight to see twice winner Nadal firing on the grass. Seven years after his last semi-final in SW19, he was at his relentless best.
Interestingly, the encounter will resume at 1pm under the roof on Saturday – unless both players agree to open it. One suspects Djokovic will not want to.
Its very likely now that the womens final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will now be delayed from its usual 2pm start.
Having been warmed up by the longest semi-final in The Championships history, the Centre Court crowd feasted on an excellent display of world-class tennis, lapping up the brilliance of two of the greatest sportsmen of all time under the roof on Friday night.
It was Djokovic who struck the first blow.
Hitting with the ferocity and accuracy that made him the most feared player on the planet, the 12-time Grand Slam champion forced Nadal to net to clinch the break, before sealing the set with another cleanly struck winner.
The pressure continued to mount on the world No. 1 as Djokovic created another break point opportunity, with his Spanish opponent punching the air with glee after denying the Serb.
Djokovic looked longingly at his box after dumping a return into the net and then screamed out after another missed chance – his third of the opening three games in the second set.
It came back to bite him moments later as Nadal broke. A wayward short-court forehand from the 31-year-old gifted the second seed two chances and he needed only one as Djokovic netted.
After playing his worst game of the match, Djokovic then played his best, breaking Nadal with a fabulous cross-court passing shot to get the set back on serve.
Nadal wasnt finished yet, though, striking a brutal forehand winner to break again.
Although Djokovic had chances to recover the break in the final game of the second, Nadal ultimately held as he levelled the match.
Both looked after their serves in the third to force a tiebreak. The Serb got off to the worst possible start with a double fault.
However, he recovered quickly, denying Nadal several set points with some spectacular tennis before ending the night up a set at 6-4 3-5 7-6 (11-9).