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Playing through the pain barrier

sports Updated: Jun 29, 2011 00:15 IST

Rafael Nadal limped into the Wimbledon quarterfinals. The Spaniard overcame an ankle injury beat Juan Martin del Potro in four pulsating sets on Centre Court on Monday.

The world no.1, however, will be fit to play his quarterfinal, against American Mardy Fish, after an MRI scan revealed he had done no serious damage to his left foot.

Del Potro, meanwhile, hobbles out of the tournament, one of the classiest losers here in a little while.

In a match of beautifully shifting drama in sunlight then in shadow over three hours and 52 minutes on Centre Court, Nadal ignored searing pain in his left ankle after an ugly slip in the first set to beat Del Potro, who was subsequently lumbered with his own hip injury, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4.

"It was a very, very difficult match against one of the best players in the world," Nadal said.

"I don't know what the problem was, it seemed like it was in the bone of the foot. At first I thought I had to retire. I felt something really strange at the end of the first set, at 6-5."

Nadal said he had to alter his whole body movement to cope with the pain and lack of mobility on his left side after sliding awkwardly in the shot.

"I had to change the position of power when I pushed on the foot," he said.

As for Del Potro, he looked in even worse shape, nursing an injury to his left hip for the second half of the match.

Earlier he was contemplating glory. Briefly and legitimately he had hopes of putting out the defending champion and bustling on towards a historic meeting with Roger Federer, who went through on the other side of the draw.

He is still the only player to beat Nadal and Federer at the same grand slam event, when he won his one major, the US Open in 2009, and, until he fell, he was within sight of engineering the intriguing possibility of doing it again.